How Cameron can be ‘big’ again

first_imgLONDON — In late March 2010 I joined a scrum of Britain’s best (and worst) political journalists as they descended en masse on the Coin Street neighborhood center in Waterloo to hear David Cameron espouse his political philosophy. The theme of the day would be a phrase he first wheeled out months before at the Guardian, when giving the Hugo Young lecture, in honor of a giant of liberal journalism. Casting himself as a compassionate, liberal conservative, Cameron said that his animating purpose in politics, his passion and mission, could be summed up by the phrase “Big Society.”This would put flesh on the bones of an excellent assertion he made when he became Tory party leader back in 2005, having beaten the Eurosceptic libertarian David Davis. “There is such a thing as society,” Cameron said in an implied retort to Margaret Thatcher’s counter-view, “it’s just not the same thing as the state.” By the time we got to Coin Street, barely six weeks before he would be elected PM, Cameron had explicitly declared the Big Society his conservative creed. Eleven would-be Cabinet ministers were there to add ballast to this declaration, including future Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. *  *  * It’s been downhill ever since. That sunny morning  —  buzzing with special advisers, charity chiefs, lobby hacks and the infuriating posh twentysomething women with long hair and double-barrelled surnames that were a feature of Cameron’s early leadership — was a high point for the Big Society as a political initiative. There are several reasons for this; but two main ones above all. The first is that this Tory government, like all its predecessors, has been captured by an economic narrative — in a word, austerity. The likes of Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ philosopher-king who resides in the Cabinet Office, talked profusely a decade ago about how the coming conservative administration would make sociocentric reforms its priority, rather than econocentric ones. The Tory brand, however, is about economic security above all. It’s true that thefinancial crisis was always going to make economics the central concern of the last Parliament. But that crisis predated the Coin Street appearance by a couple of years: Even in 2010, Cameron hoped that social reform would be his legacy.David Cameron | EPAAlas, the sheer power of Osborne within his administration, the fact that Labour weren’t trusted on the economy, and the ease with which the Conservatives could slip into a familiar narrative of fixing the mess they inherited from Labour — not that Labour was actually to blame this time, given the economy was growing by May 2010 — meant that economic recovery became the first priority of Cameron’s leadership. Or, if you like, of Cameron’s time as the face and front man of Osbornomics.*  *  *The second reason is Lynton Crosby, and all that came with him. The Australian strategist is Westminster’s voodoo doll, a much misunderstood and maligned creature. Contrary to reputation, he is softly spoken, highly decent, and — like Rupert Murdoch, by the way — surprisingly liberal on some issues, such as immigration and gay marriage. He is just ruthless in pursuit of victory, and casts himself as a man employed to secure that victory at all costs — even if it means adopting unpleasant political positions and phrases. Crosby’s method is uncomplicated. For three decades he has fought elections on a single idea — security — whether it be economic or national. All else is distraction. Crosby distils politics into a simple choice, between security and insecurity, and demands total obedience to that message. The Big Society, an amorphous, suspiciously intellectual idea is a voguish diversion. It’s true that it was struggling as an idea before he turned up. The flight of top personnel proved something was awry early on. Lord Nat Wei, the former management consultant ennobled to oversee the Big Society, left sooner than anyone expected. 3. The public don’t buy it Perhaps it really is true that many would-be Tory MPs found, back in 2010, that they drew blank faces when they mentioned the Big Society while canvassing. It is certainly the case, as Crosby’s masterful campaign showed, that clarity of message, starkness of choice, and fear of the alternative is what motivates British voters, rather than fuzzy ideals of harmony. Yet the argument that the public don’t buy it is hard to reconcile with the fact that most of them don’t understand it, and that to a large extent the project never got going. Perhaps if they did understand it, and it had been rolled out competently, more of them would buy it.A new nameIt would be as well for advocates of the Big Society to admit its shortcomings. Oliver Wright, the Independent’s political editor, was first to reveal a charity watchdog was investigating the Big Society for misuse of government funds, as well as other questionable behavior. A major audit of the whole initiative was brutal in its clarity about the Coalition’s failure to reach the targets it had set itself. Yet in other, smaller ways, planks of the Big Society have thrived. The best example is the Behavioural Insights Team led by David Halpern, now spun out of the Cabinet Office. His squad of wonks, dubbed the “Nudge Unit” in honor of the bookwritten by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, has made back over 20 times the original investment in it, delivering £300 million in savings by nudging Britons into better decisions while hardly affecting their freedom. With simple but effective techniques, this unit has increased adult literacy, encouraged the unemployed into work, and collected huge amounts in unpaid taxes.The impressive work of the Nudge Unit, chronicled in the just-released book from Halpern, is one very good reason to press ahead with the Big Society. An even better one is that this is where advances in political philosophy, to the extent that they are possible in our time, are headed. In Tom Friedman’s phrase, today’s world is fast: The intersection of markets, the effects of Moore’s Law, and the exigencies of Mother Nature are making us ever more inter-connected. The clash of ideologies that dominated the 20th century won’t dominate the 21st; managing globalization, resource wars and the reversal in democracy’s fortunes, will. To these problems we bring extensive discourses about the efficacy of the state and markets, but a much smaller body of knowledge about the science of society. That knowledge is expanding; and with it, the opportunity for reforms that improve lives and create happier, more prosperous, and hardly less free societies, in which the institutions that generate bonds of affection are nourished. This is what the Big Society aimed at. That it spectacularly missed its target is no reason not to take aim again. If Cameron  —  who said he came into politics to achieve these goals, and whose only professional life beyond politics was in corporate PR  —  wants a new name for an old idea, perhaps he could call it “Social-ism.” As distinct, that is, from socialism. The latter was the great ideological casualty of the 20th century; the former could be Britain’s defining political contribution to the 21st. Steve Hilton, Cameron’s close friend and senior adviser who personified the Big Society and was its main instigator in Whitehall, left for America when his wife got a big job at Google. Rohan Silva, another senior adviser, also left No. 10 to launch himself as an entrepreneur. By the time Osborne hired Crosby to run the election campaign, the Big Society was sacrificed on the altar of expedience. It was said that it didn’t go down well “on the doorstep,” a phrase trotted out by politicians who blame voters for their own failings. The hiring of Crosby was proof, though none was needed, that the Tories would fight the 2015 election on economic rather than social recovery: a strategy completely vindicated by their surprise win. *  *  *My central contention here is that this is a great shame. Almost everything you think you know about the Big Society is wrong. Myths include the notion that it was a cover for austerity; that it was a new idea; that there was no proper intellectual heft to it; that it was unpopular among the public.On the contrary, the Big Society brought together strands of thought and policy which, in an era of globalization and technological change, will play an ever bigger role in smart government through the 21st century — whatever label it eventually appears under. For that reason, I believe it is overdue a resurrection. Before that process can begin, we have to understand what it is, and the myths that envelop it. This is a brief breakdown. For the best pamphlet-length exposition, you need Jesse Norman.What is the Big Society?At base, it encourages the diffusion of power from the state to society by tapping into the hidden wealth of nations, to use the title of David Halpern’s seminal book. What does this mean in practice?1.  Extra state support for charities It’s important to know that a charity reliant entirely on state support is not a charity — it’s a “quango.” Charities (and I say this as Patron of one) have different sources of income: government (both central and local); individual; corporate. But the Big Society was supposed to encourage charities and community groups to expand their energies and efforts, and in so doing help to alleviate some common social ills. Part of this required additional funding, which is why the Big Society Bank was set up, and huge funds were given to the likes of Locality, a group of community organizers.center_img 2. Public service reform This was the animating mission of Blair’s final years in power. In his memoirs he says he clung on in No. 10 to stop Gordon Brown undoing those reforms. Cameron’s early leadership took Blair’s side of the argument. He said he wanted to give the public greater ownership of public services, by making them “more human.” Perhaps the best example of this is the free school agenda, where parents have been encouraged to set up their own schools. 3. Behavioral economicsRemarkable academic strides have been made in the past 20 years on human motivation and decision-making, casting Homo Economicus, the rational being who is fully informed, into history’s dustbin. Behavioral economics and  social psychology have yielded a literature, from Freakonomics to The Tipping Point and Predictably Irrational, which shows us to be socially conditioned and highly emotional beings. In his book, Norman updates Michael Oakeshott’s distinction, in On Human Conduct, between civil and enterprise associations – the former being groups that get together without substantive aim; the latter a grouping that has some ultimate achievement in mind. For Norman, there is a third type of association: the philic – groups bonded by love, reciprocity and affection. Generating as many of these bonds as possible, and using them for social goals, is a central feature of the Big Society.4. Open data If knowledge is power, power is knowledge; and any project to spread power must make information widely available. One of Silva’s signature achievements in government was pioneering open data. The Coalition admirably made huge amounts of government data available to the public for the first time. That is why recent moves to restrict freedom of information are regrettable. Three mythsThat is a brief synopsis of what the Big Society is. Here is a synopsis of what it isn’t. In other words, three myths about the Big Society.1. It’s a cover for austerityOpponents of austerity tended to deride the Big Society primarily because the ideas came from the same place. But there was a problem with this argument: Those enforcing austerity didn’t need any cover. They talked about little else. Osborne even changed his appearance to suit the theme of austerity. His Budgets banged on about little else. The argument that Big Society was a “cover” can only be espoused by stupid people who don’t understand the idea, haven’t been paying attention for the past five years, or both. A lot of the same people seem very alert to the reality of austerity when championing Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy for Labour. 2. The Big Society is a new idea In politics, there is no such thing as a new idea; only fresh labels for old ones. Obviously there is the comparison with LBJ’s Great Society. More to the point, David Willetts, the Tory thinker, was writing pamphlets about civic conservatism in the early 1990s. For him, an over-emphasis on the state, individuals and markets had missed out on the thing in between. We need a politics of institutions, whether little platoons or massive clubs, because it is institutions that bring us together best. David Blunkett’s “Scarman Lecture” (2003), Labour’s “Together We Can” Action Plan (2005) and Hazel Blears’ “Active Citizens” speech (2006) all aimed at the Big Society. If the Prime Minister agrees with my diagnosis for Social-ism, and I have reason to believe he might, I’d suggest Labour’s return to socialism would furnish him with an excellent opportunity.Amol Rajan is editor of  the Independent, in London.last_img read more

US Treasury expands sanctions linked to Russian moves in Ukraine

first_img“It is critical that Russia takes the steps necessary to comply with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements and to ensure a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Ukraine,” said John E. Smith, acting director of OFAC. “By more closely matching our designations with those of our international partners and thwarting attempts to evade sanctions¸ we are once again demonstrating the United States’ unwavering resolve to pressure Russia to respect the security and sovereignty of Ukraine.”Fourteen parties were linked to people involved in evading existing sanctions or organizations at least 50 percent owned by a designated entity; six separatists were identified for threatening either the security or stability of Ukraine; two former Ukrainian government officials were pointed out for being complicit in misappropriating public assets and/or threatening the security or stability of their country; and a dozen organizations were pinpointed that operated in Ukraine’s Crimean region.Treasury said some of the people and organizations it highlighted Tuesday have also been identified by the European Union, noting a unified international response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Also On POLITICO EU extends economic sanctions against Russia By Hans von der Burchard The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday added nearly three-dozen people to its Specially Designated Nationals list, a catalog of people and entities restricted from doing business with American citizens.Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified 34 people and organizations under sanctions from executive orders concerning Russia and Ukraine. Treasury called on Russia to do its part while underscoring that the U.S. will maintain its sanctions on the country as it seeks to resolve the crisis in Ukraine with diplomacy.The U.S. will not start rolling back sanctions until Russia fully puts in place its commitments under the Minsk Agreement, under which Russia is required to give Ukraine back control of its side of the border with Russia, Treasury said.last_img read more

Jefferson County indictments for July 31

first_imgThe following indictment were returned by a Jefferson County grand jury Wednesday:Lee Jared Bossette, 36, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Jadon Thad Castille, 19, possession of controlled substance in drug-free zoneCindy Lynn Griffin, 51, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Cindy Lynn Griffin, 51, tampering with physical evidenceRaquan Lee Mickens, 21, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Tammy Michelle Pratt, 51, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Ryan Clay McCall, 38, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Marquise Edward McGhee, 24, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Marquise Edward McGhee, 24, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Ashlei McGown, 26, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1John Nguyen, 37, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Matthew Jerome Parker, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Jessica Lynn Peterson, 18, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Quintel Craig, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Ismael Ramirez, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Ismael Ramirez, 25, possession of marijuanaDeandre James Ballou, 24, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Kendrick Jarae Renfro, 32, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Russell Sampson, 56, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Glen William Simpson Jr., 29, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Kristain Lee Smith, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Maurice S. Smith, 36, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Maurice S. Smith, 36, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Trevan Michael Smith, 27, possession of marijuanaCody James Sonnier, 35, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1David Tezeno, 42, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1David Lee Thomas, 61, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Lawrence William Thomas, 67, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Mark A. Truax, 41, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Gilbert Wayne Valdez, 35, evading detention with a motor vehicleRonnie Jermain-Jacob Walker, 29, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Dionandre Marquez Walton, 31, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Dalveus Williams, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Tramon James Williams, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Jayla Dania Armstrong, 25, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Brian Alexander Daubenheyer, 18, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Chase Morgan Kimball, 34, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Zemyra Travell Lee, 22, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Alex Kiwan Narcisse, 22, tampering with physical evidenceAlex Kiwan Narcisse, 22, possession of controlled substance penalty group 3John Christopher Sastre, 36, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Dan Shelton Jr., 56, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Andrew Alan Sherman, 39, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Brandi Irene Sherman, 39, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Chance Shofner, 44, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Nicholas Ray Smith, 31, possession of controlled substance penalty group 2Cody Lee Williamson, 31, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Paula Michelle Daigle, 39, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Alexander Ira Griffin, 32, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Tracy Lavon Carry, 28, possession of controlled substance penalty group 1Miles Cody Fulbright, 32, injure childMiles Cody Fulbright, 32, injure childMiles Cody Fulbright, 32, injure childAngel Galvez-Cardenas, 20, aggravated sexual assault on a childChristopher Lynn Robinson, 43, abandon/endanger a childChristopher Lynn Robinson, 43, abandon/endanger a childChristopher Lynn Robinson, 43, abandon/endanger a childChristopher Lynn Robinson, 43, abandon/endanger a childDalveus Williams, 25, injure childlast_img read more

Investing into the future

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Human rights

first_imgLiberty – Detention – Sentence of imprisonment for public protection Following the dismissal of their appeals before the House of Lords (see[2009] 4 All ER 255), three linked cases, in which the offenders had been sentenced to indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPP) under section 225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 with minimum terms or tariff periods of less than five years, were heard together before the European Court of Human Rights because they raised a similar issue of whether the applicants’ detention following the expiry of their tariff periods had breached their right to liberty as guaranteed under article 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights. As well as contending that article 5(1) had been breached, the applicants also sought just satisfaction for non-pecuniary loss under article 41 of the convention. The issue for determination was whether there had been a violation of article 5(1) of the convention in respect of the applicants’ detention following the expiry of their tariff periods. An issue arose as to whether one of the purposes of the applicants’ detention was their rehabilitation, particularly in the light of the fact that, by virtue of section 142 of the 2003 act, the sentencing objectives were disapplied in the case of sentences for IPP. Consideration was given to the delay in determining whether it had been safe to release the applicants and to reports on the impact on the applicants of the unavailability of treatment courses due to their detention at local prisons following the expiration of their tariff. The court ruled: (1) The object and purpose of article 5(1) was to ensure that no one was dispossessed of his liberty in an arbitrary fashion. The right of liberty was of fundamental importance. In order to assess whether an applicant’s detention post-tariff was arbitrary, the court had to have regard to the detention as a whole. While case law demonstrated that indeterminate detention for the public protection could be justified under article 5(1), it could not be allowed to open the door to arbitrary detention. For a deprivation of liberty not to be arbitrary there had to be some relationship between the ground of permitted deprivation of liberty relied on and the place and conditions of detention. The requirement that detention not be arbitrary implied the need for a relationship of proportionality between the ground of detention relied upon and the detention in question. Where a government sought to rely solely on the risk posed by offenders to the public in order to justify their continued detention, regard had to be had to the need to encourage the rehabilitation of those offenders. In cases concerning indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for the protection of the public, a real opportunity for rehabilitation was a necessary element of any part of the detention which was to be justified solely by reference to public protection. Accordingly, one of the purposes of the applicants’ detention had been their rehabilitation. While article 5(1) did not impose any absolute requirement for prisoners to have immediate access to all courses they might require, any restrictions or delays encountered as a result of resource considerations had to be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case, bearing in mind that whether a particular course was made available to a particular prisoner depended entirely on the actions of the authorities (see [187], [194], [195], [201], [209], [218] of the judgment). In the instant case, where the government had sought to rely solely on the risk posed by offenders to the public in order to justify their continued detention, it had been required to provide the applicants with reasonable opportunities to undertake courses aimed at helping them to address their offending behaviour and the risks they posed. It was significant that substantial periods of time had passed in respect of each of the applicants before they had even begun to make any progress in their sentences. It was clear that the delays were the result of a lack of resources, and it was significant that the inadequate resources at issue in the instant case appeared to be the consequence of the introduction of draconian measures for indeterminate detention without the necessary planning and without realistic consideration of the impact of the measures. Further, the length of the delays in the applicants’ cases had been considerable. It followed, in those circumstances, that there had been a violation of article 5(1) of the convention in respect of the applicants’ detention following the expiry of their tariff periods, and until steps were taken to progress them through the prison system with a view to providing them with access to appropriate rehabilitative courses (see [218], [220]-[222] of the judgment). A declaration would be made that there had been a violation of article 5(1) of the convention in respect of the applicants’ detention following the expiry of their tariff periods and until steps were taken to progress them through the prison system with a view to providing them with access to appropriate rehabilitative courses (see [250] of the judgment). Lawless v Ireland (No 3) (application 332/57) 1 EHRR 15 considered; Winterwerp v Netherlands (application 6301/73) 2 EHRR 387 considered; Guzzardi v Italy (application 7367/76) 3 EHRR 333 considered; Bouamar v Belgium (application 9106/80) [1988] ECHR 9106/80 considered; Saadi v United Kingdom (Application No 13229/03) [2008] ECHR 13229/03 considered. (2) Making an assessment on an equitable basis, the applicants would be awarded €3,000 (in the case of J); €6,200 (in the case of W); and €8,000 (in the case of L) in respect of non-pecuniary damage (see [250] of the judgment). James and others v United Kingdom (app nos 25119/09, 57715/09 and 57877/09): European Court of Human Rights (Judges Lech Garlicki (president), David Thór Björgvinsson, Nicolas Bratza, George Nicolaou, Zdravka Kalaydjieva, Nebojša Vucinic, Vincent De Gaetano): 18 September 2012center_img Join our LinkedIn Human Rights sub-grouplast_img read more

New recommendations coming on guideline hourly rates

first_imgRule-makers will be given recommendations for adjusting the guideline hourly rates by the end of this year, it has emerged.Minutes from the March meeting of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee state that a sub-committee of the Civil Justice Council has been established and will report directly to committee chair Lord Justice Coulson. The proposal has the backing of the master of the rolls Sir Terence Etherton.Given the lengthy time period since any material changes were made to the rate, it is envisaged this sub-committee will make recommendations by the end of the year, so rates can be adjusted at a point thereafter.The issue, brought up as ‘any other business’ at the meeting, will be discussed at more length next month.Pressure to alter the rates has increased in recent years, not least following the High Court’s ruling in Ohpen last year, when Mrs Justice O’Farrell said it was ‘unsatisfactory’ that guidelines were based on rates fixed in 2010 and reviewed in 2014. She pointed out that the rate were significantly lower than the hourly rates in many London law firms.The rates were originally intended to help judges who were tasked for the first time with assessing costs as a result of the Woolf reforms and implementation of the Civil Procedure Rules. Previously they were locally-derived and based on information gathered by district judges and solicitors in practice in their county court.Guideline rates are broken down into four bands based on the experience of the lawyer and differentiated for London and the rest of the country.Rates are set at £409 for solicitors and legal executives with more than eight years’ experience based in London. This ranges down to £111 for trainee solicitors, paralegals and other fee earners in the lowest national grade.Responding to news that the rate may be changed, Claire Green, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said it was more important than ever during the coronavirus crisis that lawyers are paid a proper, economic rate that reflects the costs they have to carry.She added: ‘It goes without saying that this is a very difficult time with many competing priorities, but cash flow is particularly vital for many firms at the moment. A change in the GHR – not gratuitous, but still based on evidence – would be widely welcomed.’last_img read more

Nakagawa captures fourth diving title at nationals

first_img IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Beijing Olympian Mai Nakagawa won the women’s platform event to capture her fourth title at the Diving National Championships on Saturday.Nakagawa, 11th last summer in Beijing, clinched victory with 341.00 points at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, while Kazuki Murakami completed a double in the men’s 3-meter springboard competition. Murakami added to the synchronized crown he won with partner Sho Sakai on Friday by taking top honors in the with 436.35. center_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMESlast_img read more