Showing posts from November, 2008

Enjoy the optimism, while it lasts

Posted on Bevan Foundation blog on 20th October There's no doubt that the campaign saw moments of poetry, so now for the prose. Barack Obama is a clever operator. As this interesting insider account of the campaign illustrates, the President elect seems temperamentally well-suited to the strains of governing. But as Karl Rove, President Bush's evil genius, points out , the expectations generated in the campaign are going to be very hard to deliver. The office of the Presidency was designed to disappoint. The Founding Fathers knew what they didn't want from a Chief Executive and they designed a system to keep him in his place. They were clever buggers. As Simon Schama's excellent recent BBC series illustrated, to understand America's future you need to understand its past. And we're about to see it all again as the limits of the office of the Presidency are laid bare. Sooner or later he'll disappoint.

I agree. So what's next?

Posted on the Bevan Foundation blog on 17 November 2008 The First Minister's analysis of Labour's problems in Wales is bang on the money. Of course he's not the first to say that Labour will never win a majority again unless the party reverses the public’s perception that it is anti-Welsh. But it's important he acknowledges it, not least since it now gives the debate over who will succeed him some focus. As Rhodri Morgan suggests in his IWA essay, 'winning in the west' will require the party to address the perception that it is hostile to 'rural Wales and ambivalent about how to express its 'Welshness'. The difficulty with the First Minister's analysis is that he has been the leading apologist for many of the policies he now blames for Labour's perception. He defended Post Office closures and the closure of rural schools. He was silent on the Iraq war and critical of moves to toughen the law around the Welsh language. The unanswered questio

The C Word

Posted on Bevan Foundation blog on 9 November Which one? Take your pick: confusion, capacity…con-trick (granted, that’s two words – but, hey, work with me here). The latest Bevan Foundation pamphlet by a trio of lobbyists* is a far more nuanced and considered analysis than the previews might have led you to assume. But, in my view, it ultimately fails to knock down the target it sets out to. Darran Hill, Huw Edwards and Leigh Jeffes take aim at the Archbishop of Wales’ claim that the devolution settlement is complex, confusing and unworkable. “Whilst we agree that the new process is not yet widely understood”, the authors state with masterful understatement, “we do not agree that it is unworkable or that there is a ‘constitutional crisis’”. The evidence they draw upon to back up their view, however, undermines their central assertion. Here are a few examples of their coded observations (with my own decoding thrown in for measure): “The number of stages an LCO must pass through