A short piece for the Independent – read the rest here
The coalition must grapple with the economic mess that they have inherited, and they have often talked about how Labour failed to mend the roof when the sun was shining, but they should be careful not to leave behind a subtle, but no less dangerous problem. Our legal system is a quintessentially British pillar of the constitution, and it requires talented people to sustain it. The Lord Chancellor is right to make sure that the pillar is not too expensive, but needs to realise the importance of keeping the house upright.
I’ve argued that we should raise the minimum wage in this Spectator piece which divided response: it’ll be very interesting to read the pieces in reply which have been promised from certain quarters…
How do the Conservatives continue to tackle the deficit, grow the economy, and persuade voters that they are – as the Home Secretary Theresa May put it in her measured keynote speech to the ConHome ‘Victory 2015? conference yesterday – a party for all? There’s a chance that the answer to all three problems might be to make targeted increases to the minimum wage. Americans are starting to look at the potential stimulus effects of a similar increase in their minimum wage, and this may be the time for the Treasury to contemplate something radical.
My decidedly wonkish look at the ‘get out the vote’ operation:
“By the early evening we were calling people who not only had received several calls already that day to remind them to vote, as well as one or two visits to their doorstep, but these poor voters had sent in their ballots by post, and had told everyone that. One of the practical reasons the Conservatives lost was a lack of data: banks of volunteers young and old spent hours on the phone and walking the streets pestering postal voters who’d already sent off their votes and we’d failed to record this fact. We called quite a few dead people.”
Heading as I did yesterday to the BBC’s newly-renovated Broadcasting House to do Richard Bacon’s Chart The Week I was focussing hard on the briefing pack to master the details of the news stories we’d be covering. That prep time was wasted, as the 30min slot turned into a hilarious segment of banter between Richard, a very funny journalist named Sam Delaney and me. Usually this segment has been quite political and dry (when I’ve been paired with writers for the New Statesman and the Guardian). Next time it’s Sam, I’ll know what to expect…
So I decided it was about time to revamp the website. Nothing fancy, just a little more user-friendly. It’s an attempt at simplicity, so I hope it satisfies the people who come to this site. This thing now kicks off with the blog when you come to it, but I don’t anticipate using the blogging feature on a regular basis.
For the entire time that I was at secondary school there was one teacher who shone brighter than any other as a source of passion, inspiration, energy and wit. That man was Michael Weaver, former Woodbridge Mayor, published historian, and one of the greatest teachers you could possibly imagine. He died in December 2011, it was a tragic shock coming so soon after the death of his wife. He was described by Woodbridge headmaster Stephen Cole as a ‘giant in the profession.’
I saw him a few days after Carol Weaver passed away, he was a stunned shadow of his former self, still cracking jokes, still smiling, but there was tragedy and heartbreak in his voice. I asked him to come over for dinner, he said that he now planned to dine out forever on the offers he had received from people (he was a very popular man) but to my regret it never happened.
Mr Weaver taught me, and I was the lead in a play he wrote at school which we took to Belgium – I can still picture him driving us over in the minibus. It was a little two act play on the 1966 world cup, but I was very proud to be in it. Last year I bumped into him in the street, and out of the blue he gave me a crossbow: he was a generous and unpredictable man. He kept a German grenade on the wall of his history room, and he brought the general election alive with his giant models of John Major and Tony Blair wearing boxing gloves. His speech at the OW dinner was superb – he always spoke in public with perfect comic timing.
Another great Woodbridge teacher and historian, Mark Mitchels, has written about him in the East Anglian Daily Times today click on the picture for a full size version: