speri.comment: the political economy blog

The Life Sciences should not have an Industrial Strategy

Richard Jones

Industrial policy should be driven by and framed in terms of the demand for innovation, not by the science areas which contribute to it The UK government has published the first outcome of the Industrial Strategy “sector deals” announced in the spring’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper. The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy was headed by Sir John Bell; the area is of undoubted … Continue reading

20 September 2017 by
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The Anglo-American Centre-Left and the immediate question of agency

David Coates

The Democrats and the Labour Party have been on the defensive for too long. Winning again requires a progressive re-radicalization of politics The primary problem faced by the Centre-Left in both the US and the UK is not ultimately one of programme. Adequate policy proposals abound. The problem lies rather in the lack of electoral support for such proposals, and … Continue reading

18 September 2017 by
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Overseas anti-slavery initiatives flourish, but domestic governance gaps persist

UK-based companies are ramping up efforts to combat slavery in their overseas supply chains. But companies also need to be working harder to address the severe labour exploitation taking place at home. The passage of the UK 2015 Modern Slavery Act has prompted companies to be more open about their efforts to combat forced labour in global supply chains. To … Continue reading

14 September 2017 by
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The strange still-birth of ‘Milimayism’

Tony Payne

Britain just can’t generate the politics with which to build the new reformist consensus its political economy so badly needs A key problem for Britain at the moment is that it can’t give birth to the politics that its political economy needs.  Marxists used to think this was impossible, believing that the sub-structure (political economy) would always determine the super-structure … Continue reading

11 September 2017 by
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Depoliticisation: What is it and why does it matter?

Matt Wood

Understanding the concept of depoliticisation – and of politicisation – is key to understanding the governing strategies of policymakers and how decisions are made How do governments shape public perceptions of politics in the institutional arrangements they create?  How do they seek to avoid blame for stagnant growth, failures to reduce public debt, or the financing of potentially unpopular socio-economic … Continue reading

7 September 2017 by
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The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: the biggest international organization you’ve never heard of

Rick Rowden

The West has paid little attention to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This is set to change as it becomes increasingly influential in global geopolitics Think of international organizations and groups like the UN, World Bank and the IMF might come to mind. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) likely doesn’t make most people’s lists. The SCO is probably the biggest international … Continue reading

4 September 2017 by
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The balancing act of Brexit and digital trade

As the UK leaves the EU it risks a potential ‘digital cliff-edge’. How it navigates its way through global tensions around digital trade rules will orientate the shape of the economy for years to come Recent weeks have seen the news of the government looking to rush through new data protection laws in the UK, trumpeted in the press as … Continue reading

29 August 2017 by
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Trump, the Russia sanctions and Europe’s energy future

The significant deterioration in US-Russia relations and new sanctions could profoundly impact the EU and its energy needs The melodrama around Donald Trump has obscured the significance of recent events in American politics to the energy future of Europe. At the end of July President Trump signed into law a bill passed with near unanimity by Congress that, among other … Continue reading

24 August 2017 by
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The problem with treating a financial network like a financial market

Ten years after the financial crisis, the risks associated with securitisation are yet to be fully appreciated It is almost precisely ten years since BNP Paribas froze three investment funds linked to subprime securities, marking the start of one of the most significant financial crises and deepest recessions of our time. At the centre of this crisis was an obscure … Continue reading

23 August 2017 by
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Does age now trump class in British politics?

Kate Alexander Shaw

After higher youth turnout in the 2017 general election Labour has to think hard about whether fairness is about class or cohort Labour’s surprise success in June’s election, gaining 32 seats and winning 40 per cent of the popular vote, has quickly been absorbed within a new narrative about the rise of youth. Before the election, the conventional wisdom was … Continue reading

21 August 2017 by
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Are China’s economic activities good for Zambia?

Chinese investment to Zambia has created jobs and trade but there are serious concerns about conditions for labour in the copper industry China is Africa’s largest bilateral trading partner. The value of Chinese trade with Africa increased from $4 billion in 1996 to $200 billion in 2014. Much of the latter value is underpinned by China’s demand for raw materials … Continue reading

15 August 2017 by
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Developing a local government finance system that works for all?

Property and land are increasingly significant to local government financing – but their valuation and taxation need urgent reform to fund local services and support growth In recent years, there have been several political narratives designed, and promoted, to rebalance the way parts of England are governed; variously associated with devolution, decentralisation,  Powerhouses (Northern) and Engines (Midlands). More recently, emphasis … Continue reading

15 August 2017 by
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Has the salience of ‘saving’ in British political discourse declined?

The practice of saving has been complexified, but the concept has until recently retained discursive significance as part of an ‘asset-based welfare’ agenda. The 2017 election may, however, have signalled a significant shift in British economic statecraft The value of saving has been preached by the leaders of both main political parties in the UK for a considerable period of … Continue reading

9 August 2017 by
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Devolution and austerity are intertwined in Sheffield City Region

A new conversation about devolution that acknowledges the impact of austerity on city regions is urgently needed In October 2015, leaders in the Sheffield City Region signed an ‘in principle’ agreement with George Osborne (then Chancellor) for a £900M devolution agreement. At this time, Sheffield was second only to Manchester, with ‘Devo-Manc’ being the trailblazer of the Northern Powerhouse initiative … Continue reading

8 August 2017 by
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Why the Conservatives struggle with empathy

The ‘nasty party’ tag will stick until the Conservatives reject making moral judgements about poorer members of society Emotional intelligence has become such an important political virtue in the UK this summer that First Secretary of State Damian Green recently sought to reassure BBC Breakfast viewers that the Prime Minister Theresa May ‘is a warm and empathetic woman’. This was … Continue reading

3 August 2017 by
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The Labour Party’s free movement dilemma

Owen Parker

There are good pragmatic and principled reasons for the Labour Party to reverse its opposition to the free movement of EU citizens In its 2017 manifesto the Labour Party is unequivocal: ‘freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union’. But this apparently clear position on free movement is not a longstanding one in a Labour Party that … Continue reading

31 July 2017 by
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Brexit risks harming African economies that trade with the UK

Peg Murray-Evans

The UK must pay urgent attention to the complexities of African trade in order to avoid Brexit having damaging effects In my last SPERI blog I outlined my concern that despite the UK government’s commitment to reinvigorating the Commonwealth, African countries would be sidelined in favour of larger and more important markets in the UK’s post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ trade strategy. … Continue reading

27 July 2017 by
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The collapse of France’s Socialist Party amidst the Macron surge

With Macron dominant and the left divided, the future of a devastated Socialist Party is extremely unclear The Presidential and legislative elections in France this year delivered arguably the most dramatic upheaval in the French party system since the foundation of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Unprecedentedly, the sitting President did not to attempt to run for re-election, whilst the … Continue reading

26 July 2017 by
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Labour’s Titanic Brexit nightmare

Matthew Bishop

In even flirting with leaving the EU Single Market, the UK is heading full steam towards an iceberg of historic proportions, and this will destroy Labour if a change of course is not pursued We are plausibly living through the endgame of a neoliberalism that has drastically over-reached itself. The great value of Corbynism is its recognition of this essential … Continue reading

24 July 2017 by
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Towards a coherent industrial strategy for the UK

Richard Jones

The new report by Industrial Strategy Commission sets out positive principles that can be the foundations for a new UK industrial strategy What should a modern industrial strategy for the UK look like? Last week the Industrial Strategy Commission, of which I’m a member, published its interim report – Laying the Foundations – which sets out some positive principles which we suggest … Continue reading

19 July 2017 by
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