Friday, February 25, 2011

UK politics and the AV: time to consider mini-referenda

A likely outcome of the Alternative Vote system, subject of the upcoming May referendum, is that it would push election campaigns further into the centre ground as MPs try to widen their appeal.

This raises the risk of rogue governments adopting policies for which they have little mandate, as with the UK coalition’s post-election lurch to the right, and raises the question whether AV on its own is enough. Perhaps it should be followed by other democratic reforms, such as mini-referenda?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Youth unemployment: another misguided case of ‘leave it to the market’

Alice Roosevelt Longworth once joked that “the secret of eternal youth is arrested development”.

That certainly resonates with me but if Teddy Roosevelt’s eldest daughter was right, today’s school leavers should remain young for a very long time. Those hoping to develop into employees face the toughest job market since most of them were born.

The TUC’s February Labour Market Report shows youth unemployment approaching one million. A quarter of these are considered long-term unemployed having been without work for longer than a year, the highest level for seventeen years.

According to the TUC’s blog, one of the first things the government did when coming into power was to cut the Future Jobs Fund introduced by Labour and replace it with nothing. Is this another case of mistaken reliance on markets?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More NHS materials

Unison, the health workers union, takes apart the government's myth-buster document (see earlier posting For and against NHS reform  - in their own words) in a response called "Rebutting the rebuttals"

Sample letters to write to MPs and GPs, and other Unison docs here

Survey by the Royal College of General Practitioners, which finds that a majority of GPs oppose the marketisation of the NHS and fear the reforms will cause "irreparable and irreversible damage to the NHS."

Follow the legislative progress of the Bill through the committee stages. Only two more committee meetings after today's, scheduled for 1 and 3 March.

Excellent article on Channel 4 website by junior doctor on likely effect of the reforms "NHS surgeon: Lansley reforms are a 'phony revolution'"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NHS price competition – what the academics think

Here are some links to academic research on the effects of price competition on healthcare. You probably know the conclusions already but here they are spelled out with links to the relevant research papers and the dangerous parts of the draft Bill.

Also, some handy resources for NHS campaigners:

Now for the nitty gritty...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Save the NHS, push for limits on private health provision

Here’s an idea to stop the government from gutting the NHS - push for an amendment that limits the percentage of the NHS budget that GPs can farm out to the private sector.

An unexpected champion for this might turn out to be David Miliband, who landed one of the few real blows on the government’s health reform plans in yesterday’s Commons debate.