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Weird agreements break out on The Big Questions, and with Joey Barton

Posted on 22 January 2012 | 12:01pm

Despite feeling like death warmed up on waking – am on antibiotics for a chest infection and anti-depressants for Le Chien Noir – I enjoyed the BBC Big Questions debate.

I know Nicky – no relation – Campbell inspires mixed views, but I think he holds the ring in live, and lively debates, really well. And with issues as varied as the right to protest, the role of happiness in politics, and sex education all on the agenda, there was certainly some lively debate. Nicky even managed to squeeze in that he had read – and enjoyed – The Happy Depressive. (Memo from Beeb bosses – one Campbell plugging a book is probably enough).

What I really enjoyed about today was all the weird agreements breaking out.

Last night, in between coughing and watching J Edgar (Leonardo di Caprio is brilliant by the way) I was doing an email interview with an Armenian magazine who inter alia asked me what qualities I valued in a person. Among them I said ‘strong and enduring values but matched by a mind open to new ideas and arguments.’

There was certainly a lot of that going on in the Harris Academy in Peckham today. Even before the programme started I found myself deep in conversation with George, a leading light in the Occupy London movement, and more often than not – even if we expressed ourselves differently – we were in deep agreement too. He talked about the failure of neoliberalism and the need to hasten the collapse of a falied capitalist system. I talked about the need to recognise that if we are serious about the extension of happiness and well being to the majority, then the prime focus has to be closing the inequality gap between top and bottom, with our energies focused on the bottom. We agreed David Cameron was right to add happiness to the list of factors government policy makers should address when devising policy. And we agreed he was talking the talk without walking the walk. In fact I would go so far as to say that if you distilled the very different words we were using, we had something close to a seven and a half out of ten agreement across the piece. He clearly sees Parliament as something of a failure. I don’t.

But then – weirder and weirder – when it came to the programme’s discussion on the right to protest, I said I agreed with a lot of their arguments and they were having an impact – for example all three party leaders were last week making speeches about responsible capitalism, and they might be able to take some credit for that. But I felt they were making a mistake in going on about the way they felt they were being harrassed by the authorities, because in comparison say to the miners under Thatcher, or the civil rights protest movement in the US (I quoted the J Edgar film on the subject) they were getting a prettty good press and fairly soft policing.

I then found Mark Littlewood, a right wing free marketeer from the Institute of Economic Affairs, who pre-programme was extolling the benefits of abortion clinic ads on telly, saying ‘I never thought I’d say this but I agree with everything Alastair Campbell said.’

Meanwhile Nicky said I was ‘with the government’ on the happiness agenda (which I am up to the point of the somewhat important question of policy proposals) and after a pretty lively debate on that – this time with the free market fundamentalists arguing that wealth creation was the route to happiness, me arguing that it was not the be all and end all – we moved on to sex education. And I found myself agreeing with Nadine Dorries rather more than I had expected. She is the Tory MP who has carved out a niche in Parliament speaking out about issues like abortion, sex education, the sexualisation of youth. We have never met before so, given the image I had of her as an anti-sex puritan right-winger, I was a bit taken aback that she kissed me on being introduced. Only a light mwah mwah on each cheek, but you know, enough to challenge my preconeceptions.

Once she persuaded me that she was not saying her call to talk of the benefits of abstinence in schools applied only to girls not boys, but the girls were the ones who had to live longest and hardest with the consequences of unwanted pregnancies, and once I realised she was not saying abstinence should be taught at the expense of teaching about relationships, love and sex, then I found myself nodding more than shaking my head as she spoke. Again, about seven out of ten.

Afterwards, I had three members of the audience come up to me and say they had expected to disagree with everything I said (because they opposed the war in Iraq) and ended up agreeing with almost all of it, and asking where they can get the book. (I must say this digital only thing is a bit of a problem but Digital Dan from Random House says I must persevere because ‘it’s the future’.)

So why did I enjoy the programme more than most that I do? Well, so much of media debate does not really have the time and space for real debate. News for example tends to have a headline, a proposition, a point in favour, a point against, then a glib conclusion rfrom a reporter. Most chat shows skate over surfaces.

In an hour it is impossible to cover three big debates in huge detail. But I thought Nicky and his Big Questions team did a pretty good job.

I usually come away from telly feeling there had not been enough time, there was more heat than light and people just had a fixed position and stuck to it whatever subject came up. I sensed people in today’s programme – myself included – feeling their own conventional wisdoms and paradigms shift a little.

A programme which has Occupy protesters tweeting afterwards that I talked sense, me saying so did they, Mark Littlewood agreeing with me more than he expected to, me agreeing more with Nadine Dorries than I expected to may sound like dull telly – but when the agreements are all unexpected, it is actually quite refreshing. And interesting.

And before I was home, I find QPR’s Joey Barton and I engaging in a twitter conversation about God, Nietzsche, Proust and football. This because I had tweeted while en route to the programme that the biggest questions of all were ‘To be or not to be?; is there a God; and has Joey Barton read Proust. (He told me he hasn’t, and he hasn’t read Nietzsche’s books but he knows enough to quote him) … Funny old day.

Now I’m home to rest up before I toddle down to The Emirates to see my mate Fergie put one over on Arsene (who, Gooners may be interested to know, is quoted in a key section of The Happy Depressive.) By then, I am also hoping my mate ‘Arry – we’ve played golf together don’t you know? – has put one over on Roberto.

The morning has been full of surprises. So might be the afternoon. As Nietzsche said ‘it’s a day of two halves Joey’.

  • On Occupy and “responsible capitalism”, Libdems have been talking about this for years. With 8.7% of the MPs, we are trying our best to do what we think will produce a better capitalism. As are the Tories, and Labour. Problem is we might not have the right ideas and we may not be able to or the politicians may be too afraid to push the boat out further.

    We need people and groups like Occupy to come up with ideas, however stupid they might seem, debate them, refine them and implement them, see if they have an effect and if they don’t change them.

  • On Occupy and “responsible capitalism”, Libdems have been talking about this for years. With 8.7% of the MPs, we are trying our best to do what we think will produce a better capitalism. As are the Tories, and Labour. Problem is we might not have the right ideas and we may not be able to or the politicians may be too afraid to push the boat out further.

    We need people and groups like Occupy to come up with ideas, however stupid they might seem, debate them, refine them and implement them, see if they have an effect and if they don’t change them.

  • How very curious.
    Nadine has always bothered me deeply – I have not experienced much nuance to her views previously so I accept the usual risk of characterturing such views.
    The occupy movement fascinates me – the foolish views of Mensch etc. seem glib beyond words as Ian Hislop exploded them adroitly on Have I Got News For You. The global aspect of this is central to me – the lessons from 15M in Madrid have – as ever – being beyond the Anglo-phone axis been so massively reported. Likewise the Chile student movement.
    A fascinating morning – too windy to cycle outdoors. Hence watched and listened from turbo trainer bike thing indoors. Thank you for your insights, as ever.

  • Michele

    I don’t appreciate how certain people seem to think that throwing out the baby with the bath water is excusable; how can they pretend (or think it’s defensible) to not know what work has gone before? 
    I’ve avoided saying here that as far as privilege is concerned they’re happy enough to accept from the past haven’t I?

    Late in 2010:
    He (Cam) said economic growth remained the most “urgent priority” but he
    wanted a better measure of how the country was doing than GDP…….
    …… so I’m not sure how well he thinks he’s doing re the former or why, re the latter he didn’t look at what intelligent and open-minded people like Laurie / Matthew Taylor have been writing for years?  Dare he not contemplate anything touched on by the left-leaning? 
    It’s all so wasteful of time and quite a distraction from
    actualities such as that some of the GP-controlled replacements for PCTs are already being passed to the likes of KPMG for management …..  surprise surprise it’s more technical and time-consuming than the GP teams had imagined.

  • Ehtch

    Taking of sport, this francais pirate channel has been brilliant for me this weekend this weekend – saw Scarlets and Aaron Shingler score a 95 metre, yes, I’ll repeat myself a 95 metre try – not bad for a six foot six backrow forward, the french sporting press are raving about it a’journa di,
    l’homme du match they give him,
    when he played crickers for Glamorgan to give it up to play rugger professional,,429,PP.html
    Oh yes, watching the Ospreys playing crap vee the basque Biarritz – showing Blues vee Paris Racing Metro next afterwards from Cardiff, pirate channel – ce la vie, mon friend,
    And oh yes, Joey Barton has been picked upon by you know who, made a wotsit to put us all down, and oh yes, Scarlets beat Castres Olympique to qualify for the Amlin quaters, not the HC quarters, but better than nothing, mon ami.

    And good appearance on “questions”, Alastair, or whatever the beeb call it with wots ‘is name introducing it, this mornings.

    • Ehtch

      There is a finite amount of sport supporters in Wales/Cymru, therefore the lack of pants on the seats with Cardiff and Swans Ospreys in rugger, strange but true.
      If e does useless, the other have crowds. Chameleon like it is. But Scarlets are having good crowds this season, and a type of side in rugger that should be supported, when all things considered, heart and soul and all that. Quaverers from England gladly welcomed and accepted….

      Anyway Wales playing rugger when I was young and influenced,

  • reaguns

    Working my way through “the big questions” show now.

    Couple of really funny bits so far.

    Mark Littlewood says he agrees with everything AC just said, AC rolls eyes and says “Oh God, then I take it all back!” Nice one AC.

    Mark Littlewood also issues the line that should be thrown at occupy every time, he says if they really represent the 99%, why not run for election and you’ll win a crushing majority! Brilliant stuff Mark.

    The posh occupy guy with the long hair and beard has an incredibly irritating habit of always pointing with his fingers. Advice mate, you aren’t part of no 99%, I don’t like you and would never vote for you. Smug know-all patronisers like you do get elected though (Cameron, Clegg, Huhne) but hire Alastair as your spin doctor. I suspect “the message” will be: Get a haircut, a shave, and point your fingers one more time and I’ll snap them.

  • reaguns

    Re Nadine Dorries, I think you’re in there AC! I don’t think she’s a prude. Watched her on that show last year where they took politicians and made them live on council estates, she came across quite well, though they rinsed her afterwards for slipping a few quid to the people she stayed with.

    Loved the bit in AC’s diaries (tv version I’ve not read the book yet) where AC and TB meet Diana, AC reckons she fancies him, TB gets upset!

  • Ehtch

    furthermore to my post, 1-22 in on the vid is a classic try in Paris by us taffies.

  • Marymot

    Happiness is:-
    I was married in the early 50s. We had a small flat — 2 rooms .no scullery.a shared lavatory, hot water from an electric guyser and no bath.  We had no phone,washing machine,refrigerator, tv or car  and yet as a young couple we were happy. Gradually we acquired these things and enjoyed the freedoms they gave us. Would we be happy to go back to the way we were originally — of course not.
    The difference between then and now is that our peers were in the same boat.  So the articles by themselves didn’t make us happy but being on the same level as the norm did.  There will always be those who feel they must strive to get bigger and better yachts but for the average family acheiving a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle is enough to bring happiness within reach. So if David Cameron wants a happy society he must see to it that the bottm layer do not get left too far behind.

    If I may say a word about Ed’s so called u turn.  If GB and AD had been allowed to carry on with their 4 year plan for the reduction of the deficit we would be in a better place economically than we are now. So it is no surprise that the labour plans for the future have to change in line with worsening situation.  Mr Osborne can hardly say he wasn’t warned. 

  • Dave Simons

    Can you tell me how ‘responsible capitalism’ is going to deal with capitalism’s built-in problem? Namely, that labour power is just another ‘factor of production’, like land and capital, and that its cost needs to be kept down in order for there to be profits to either reinvest in capital accumulation or the private lifestyles and consumption of owners, whichever road the private owners opt to take. But the people whose livings depend on selling labour power are also consumers, and if their cost is kept down they are able to consume little. Multiply this around the system and it makes for that whacking contradiction at the heart of capitalism which was pointed out by Marx, among others, nearly two centuries ago. Robert Owen tried one kind of responsible capitalism and I suppose John Lewis tries another kind.  Is capitalism the only way of organising production, distribution and exchange?

  • Anonymous

    Good display by Alastair Campbell and Mark Littlewood.Hell of a difference between them and the amateurs.

    Its like when I watched AC on 10 o’clock live with David Mitchell and a hostile crowd but they couldn’t lay a glove on him.

    On the “happiness” theme I agree with a lot of the points against, like Mark Littlewoods that the government should butt out, and if it finds that believing in god aids happiness, its not its place to legislate we should believe in god for instance.

    However, though I believe in small government and libertarianism… I got to agree more with AC. Governments can make people ‘happier’. My grandfather, a small subsistence farmer who in pre-CAP days had to worry about whether he could feed the family and pay the bills, was delighted whenever he was able to pay his national insurance stamp, and my folks tell me the day he got his pension and knew he had a guaranteed income for the rest of his life, was a very happy day to him.

    I think this applies to other areas too – it makes me happier to know if I lose my job or get sick, the welfare state will ensure I don’t starve or die of a treatable disease. I would also be happier if the government could reduce crime. I am happier that the cold war ended.

    So, I think AC wins this one – the government can make people happier.

  • Mark Littlewood

    I greatly enjoyed debating with Alastair on the programme. For those who might be interested, you can download the IEA’s research on “happiness economics” for free here

    The publication includes a wide range of (sometimes discordant!) views.

    But, I think a major problem for some of those who support happiness/wellbeing economics could be the graphs on page 47 of the IEA document.

    This shows that increased government spending over the past few decades has had no positive impact on the happiness of the public. Supporters of wellbeing economics should therefore conclude that we can reduce public spending enormously – way, way beyond the coalition’s proposed cuts – without any negative impact on the wellbeing of the public. Funnily enough though, they rarely seem to voice this view.

    The second graph on page 47 shows that inequality in the UK has increased dramatically since 1979. However, this has had no negative effect on wellbeing. So, Alastair’s assertion in his blog post (….”if we are serious about the extension of happiness and well being to the
    majority, then the prime focus has to be closing the inequality gap
    between top and bottom, with our energies focused on the bottom…”) isn’t borne out by the data. In fact, the conclusion would be that if wellbeing is your aim, you needn’t give two hoots about the income gap. You might care about income equality for other reasons, of course, but you can’t credibly do so on the grounds that it is good for wellbeing.

    As I tried to make plain on the show this morning – “happiness economics” has the potential to lead you to all sorts of weird and wonderful conclusions. For example, the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index last year showed Burma to be happier than Sweden. What on Earth are the public policy implications of this? What steps should the Swedish government take to make it more like Burma?

    Heterosexual marriage also correlates strongly with wellbeing – as does a belief in God. Is the conclusion that we want the state to become more theocratic and to strongly incentivise straight marriage over and above other family arrangements? I certainly hope not – but that’s the direction the happiness data would push you in.

    There are some other lurking horrors too. For example, happiness data tends to show that someone who suffers a serious injury – such as the loss of a limb – suffer decreased happiness for a couple of years but then return to the same levels they were at previously. What policy conclusions should this lead us to? That a brave British soldiers losing an arm or a leg in combat isn’t really anything to worry about, as they will be back to normal before long?!

    The third chapter of the IEA’s publication tackles the Easterlin paradox (the claim that beyond a certain level, additional wealth/income doesn’t improve happiness). In fact, the authors of this chapter find (by looking at a very extensive data set) that richer countries are generally happier than poorer countries, that richer people within richer countries are generally happier than poorer people and that populations of any country tend to get happier as their economy grows over time. No one suggests that this is the only driver of happiness, of course – but it does seem to be a significant one.

    Mark L

  • Chris lancashire

    Cameron is “talking the talk” on reducing inequality is he? Well possibly. But when you, Tony and Gordon had 13 years during which inequality increased the sheer hypocrisy of your criticism is stunning.

  • Rachelm

    Saw a tweet that A/C had been positve re Occupy, so watched and you were, well maybe not quite getting the police thing, but then you wont have experienced it. Bit like depression, if youve not had it you dont get the physical and sheer horror of it. Despite loathing the labour party, appreciate your talking out about mental health.  And supporting occupy.  

  • Ehtch

    Strange, as a Celtic leade – they have a full head of hair, and a full beard, so I going to think of growing a good beardy in the next ten years, as per: –

  • Michele

    Tee hee

  • Michele

    It might seem flippant DS but re your last question yes, perhaps there does need to be some excitement (and not just need) in order that trade happens.

    Why would anyone buy anything new if it wasn’t better quality or better design or better whatever than what they already have?  By the early days of the crash we had already reached such a pitch of renewing / replacing even what we didn’t need to that trade, maintaining its size per year is no longer just about what we need and has become a need in itself.

    JLP combines two things wonderfully and in a style that it’s taken them decades to reach.  BTW in order to fulfil their commitment to customers they are very  hard on suppliers, the ‘co-op’ mode is mainly within its own empire.  I’m not sure how far down the production cycle they extend themselves (if buying cotton shirts from a UK label do they visit the mills where the cloth is made?) … I don’t think so as there’s the risk of accusations of ‘jollies’ to be avoided.

  • Michele

    ” …….. it is no surprise that the labour plans for the future have to change in line with worsening situation …… ”

    It would be worth EB/EM spending some time in clarifying things though, rather than letting the govt and the union leaderships get away with distorting what has been said i.r.o. 2015 and celebating / objecting to it as if it related to what they’d do if back in power now. 
    The 100 seats majority handed to govt by the coalesced mess means fixed term will be fixed term.
    All we need between now and then is for the notion of a No Confidence Motion needing 55% support and who knows what else could happen or have I dozed off and that’s already got through?

    I keep meaning to look in to how many so called liberals/democrats have voted against a single topic since May ’10.

  • Anonymous

    Dave I think the true capitalist system depends on competition to drive down the price of everything, including labour, but including the profits which would fund the private lifestyles and consumption of the owners.

    Every price should be driven to the lowest level that is possible bt where companies still make enough money to keep operating, workers still get paid enough to allow them to choose to work rather than not work, and customers are able to buy things at low prices.

    It must be based on freedom – entrepreneurs freedom to run their business or not, workers freedom to work for them or not, customers freedom to buy the goods or not.

    We could all have houses, cars etc without so much debt in that system.

    I recognise that in practise this has not often been the case – vested interests get the government to adopt anti capitalist policies to stem competition and allow them those lifestyles.

    Whats the alternative system that you think is better anyway?

  • Anonymous

    Enjoyed your contribution on the show Mark, especially the put down of Occupy “If you really are the 99% then run for election – you’ll win a crushing majority.”

    I am much more in agreement with your economics than Alastairs (well he doesn’t have any) but I don’t quite agree with you on “happiness” as I said below.

  • Michele

    ofgs I think I’ve done my party trick and accidentally scrolled over Like, sorry about that :-P.

    Your think tank is privately/voluntarily funded and has refused to divulge its benefactors (while being recognised as right-leaning).
    I doubt this will be the place where anyone can discover more than G Monbiot did.

    It’s also headed by an outspoken and seemingly high Catholic.

    I’m sure there are left-leaning organisations about which similar things can be said; two wrongs etc.

  • Michele

    Folllowing closely on what has happened against the BFI it looks as if your organisation is now canvassing about the whole DCMS.
    Excuse my mistrust but I’m understanding the ‘acceptances’ form is solely for the use of invitees and judging by those on the discussion panel it’s looking as if it’s being managed to reach the conclusions the govt (using yur organisation to do so) wants it to.

    All the yatter recently about people in Bhutan being happier than we are despite being appallingly poor is a horrendous example of talking down to people here.
    Most in Bhutan know little about the rest of the world and what could be …. yes it might do us all well to know less but knowing more might not lead to jealousy, rather to ambition (for health, culture, philosophy) and explains why uninformed (and under-nourished) people imagine themselves ‘content’.

    It might well be that devout Hindus (even Dalits) appear to be  happy in this life and don’t take coins left for statues of gods but that would be because they are afraid of being reincarnated in to the animal kingdom in their next life (whereas being content in this one, whatever level it’s at should assure them of a higher future).

    Is it sensible for anyone here to resent tax and benefits while they don’t realise that Small Govt means that most people that can afford more tax in such countries pay instead to have servants?  It’s one way to cut down on the numbers dying in the street but is not the way the UK should go.

    It’s all like comparing stones with apples and is quite amazing that we can be talked to as if we just need to be fed nursery rhymes.

    Instead of attacking life-enhancing public organisations why does your institute not look to the harder target ….. the real thieves in society? 
    I mean the landlords that are cheating DSS by charging rents that are not competitive but which have to be paid by councils that have to house people, wherever and however costly it is.
    I read recently of a couple in the north east who, over the last 30yrs have bought over 400 properties, every one of which is leased to a benefits claimant (I doubt that situation is about altruism).

  • Anonymous

    Being sarcastic I presume? If not, please forgive my paranoia… they are out to get me though.

  • Michele

    Presumption was wrong, no need to acknowledge, am posting it JFI.

  • Michele

    Can you explain your calculation please?
    I know of one man that made £11Bn in one year when he bought a chain store group and applied retrospective discounts on all its suppliers’ preceding year’s-worth of deliveries. 
    Do you mean people like him vs a Big Issue seller with a no sales day when you talk about ‘inequality increased’ or are you using some unexplained averages as the two ends of the wealth spectrum?
    Then again were you simply making the usual kind of plop?

  • Gilliebc

    A mistaken ‘Like’ can be removed M by clicking on it again, as I accidentally discovered some time ago.

  • Chris lancashire

    Oh dear, we’ve been here before haven’t we Michele?
    Don’t take it from me, take it from Harriet Harman’s National Equality Panel (I know, laughable isn’t it?) reporting in January, 2010, that “Labour has failed to bridge the inequality gap and Britain remains a deeply unequal society after almost 13 years of Labour rule” Lots more facts and figures in their report but I’m afraid they won’t fit your prejudices.
    Now, next time you have a go at me dear remember that I usually have a factual basis to rely on.

  • Michele

    You seem to be wanting it all every which way CL.  On another topic today you are kicking people that should be deprived of receiving more in benefits than they might in work and here you’re knocking the rulers that have not bridged the gap and there’s surely a thread where you’d have complained about minimum wage.

    WTC made work for those with large families worthwhile, but for WTC to be claimed there needs to be that word denoted by the first initial or the other denoted by a J. 
    Can you disbelieve a father that has no W-word for being in an anxiety state and going for a sick note once he’s used up his 6m of unemployment benefit entitlement? 

    It IS all a tricky balance, people have to be got back in to work but the way to do that (when there are no jobs) is not to tip them out in to poverty and in to what some might come to think of as ‘excusable’ or understandable crime. 
    We are NOT to become again a country that forces its unemployed or ill in to the only other measures there are to get food.

    Thanks btw for not mocking my typo re £Bn i/o Mn ….. am getting used to a new keyboard (or not getting used to it).

  • Michele

    “…………….  the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index last year showed Burma to be happier than Sweden ……”

    It’s cynical in the extreme (can it even be real Christianity?) to celebrate
    these distorted surveys.  When people are afraid to admit they are
    unhappy it is because they are in fear of their governors. 

    Honestly I despair that all this info is being passed to this govt and the possibility that they act on it.  Many of those not happy in Myanmar can go set themself on fire and avoid being questioned or spend decades under house arrest for daring to express dissatisfaction under a military junta.

    PS:  I believe it’s polite btw to use the name that a country has re-claimed for itself and bothered to get expressed in symbols from the English language, not the name put on it by colonial rulers.

  • Michele

    Wow can it?   MANY thanks Gbc.  Have just done it and it worked, it needs a click not just a stroke ….. blush.

  • Stan Rosenthal

    Ignore the Institute of Economic Affairs’ report on happiness. What is getting up the nose of this right-wing think-tank are the findings of an ONS investigation into well-being which show that what really makes people happy are things in the public realm that do not cost money and a society in which there is greater fairness and equality.

    I suggest googling Action for Happiness for a more enlightened take on this matter.

  • Stan Rosenthal

    Inequality increased in the Blair/ Brown years did it? Well according to the OECD, as reported by BBC News (google Rich and poor gap narrows in UK) inequality actually declined after 2000. In fact the survey referred to the decline as being “remarkable”, income equality “having fallen faster than in any other OECD country” The person who wrote the OECD report  told BBC News 
     “To some extent this reflects the Blairite approach; that you do, almost, the redistribution by stealth,” he said. ” …you don’t advertise the fact that you’ve actually put an awful lot more resources into helping the least well off in society. “Both ends of the distribution have been getting richer, but the poor actually have been getting richer more rapidly than the rich since the year 2000. 

  • Michele

    But this also depends on how things are expressed, whether in percentages or raw amounts, I guess both sides are as bad as each other at choosing the one that favours their argument.

    A person used to living on £100pw is going to be cock’a’hoop at an extra tenner pw; someone on £1000pw isn’t even going to notice such an increase (though we can be sure they’d claim to be affected by it as a decrease).

    It’s a lot cheaper to make a lot of poor people feel better off.

    Do we know about these calculations?
    Are breakfast clubs, free lunches, after-school groups going to be evaluated and counted in?
    Will state education ever be?

  • Anonymous

    I think that if Stan’s figures are true, then that is a great reflection on labour and they should be all over it.

    But I like Michele’s caveats and agree that both sides are indeed as bas as each other at choosing what suits their argument.

    Labour, Tories, democrats, republicans are making equally feeble arguments all the time about who takes credit or blame for what, was it previous government, was it external factors, are credit rating downgrades caused by austerity or not, etc etc etc.

  • Cliff

    I was at the Peckham ‘ The Big questions’ and really enjoyed the very concise and clear arguments. I even congratulated someone who put a totally opposite view than me because of how well they debated the point!

  • Found your exchange with Joey Barton very interesting. Would love to  hear more elaborated thoughts on your ‘search’ sometime!