Monday, 21 November 2016

Strictly Come Dancing star calls for curbs on Bank independence

Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls was the chief architect of UK central bank independence. Now, taking a break from learning the cha-cha-cha, he has called for the Bank of England's independence to be reined in.

The paper he has written two colleagues at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard makes a key distinction between operational and political independence. The former has brought benefits in terms of price stability, but the latter does not bring any such benefits, and there is a need for greater political accountability: Bank independence

It is argued that the assumption that the more independence given to a central bank the better no long holds.

Of course, there are limits to the Bank of England's independence. The Chancellor sets the inflation target and appoints the Governor and key personnel.

The paper from Balls is very much in line with the political wind with prime minister Theresa May making implicit criticisms of the Bank's monetary policy and Donald Trump's criticisms of the Federal Reserve.

The grant of operational independence to the Bank of England formed a central underpinning of academic depoliticisation narratives, but recent political developments favour repolitcisation.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Continental Partnership proposal

One interesting proposal for Britain's future relationship in a post-Brexit world has been the idea of a 'Continental Partnership' put forward by a group of six senior policy makers and scholars and published by the Brussels think tank Bruegel: Continental Partnership

They 'propose a new form of collaboration, a continental partnership. The UK will want to have some control over labour mobility, as well as leaving behind the EU’s supranational decision-making. The proposed continental partnership would consist in participating in goods, services, capital mobility and some temporary labour mobility as well as in a new system of inter-governmental decision making and enforcement of common rules to protect the homogeneity of the deeply integrated market. The UK would have a say on EU policies but ultimate formal authority would remain with the EU. This results in a Europe with an inner circle, the EU, with deep and political integration, and an outer circle with less integration.'

Britain would continue to pay into the EU budget which would allow it access to key areas of the single market. The blueprint would leave the UK free to impose quotas on EU workers, so addressing one of the key concerns of Brexiteers, but Britain would have to make major concessions in other areas. The acceptance of case law from the ECJ would be particularly difficult for Leave supporters to swallow.

However, the UK would have a voice on matters affecting its shared market with the EU which would go beyond the consultation currently offered to Switzerland and Norway.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

What does 'Brexit means Brexit' mean?

One month after the referendum, this article suggests that the mood in the country is similar to that after the Stuart restoration, an acceptance of what has happened. Meanwhile, it is necessary to deconstruct the statement: 'Brexit means Brexit': What does Brexit mean?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Where and who is the median voter?

A younger Dave Cameron meets Worcester Woman. The real Worcester Woman was somewhat younger, in her mid-thirties, she worked part-time, had children and drove a Ford Mondeo.

In the course on Economics and Politics I taught for several years with my great colleague Ben Lockwood, we spent two weeks on the Downs theory of the median voter and the subsequent literature. As a shorthand, one might say that spatial models like that of Downs have lost popularity relative to valence models which lead to a greater emphasis on leadership competence, although a methodological problem is that spatial positioning may affect assessments of leaders.

Journalists have engaged in a search for the median voter. At one time it was the anonymous 'Worcester Woman', but in 2010 it was 'Motorway Man' with a specific voter in the constituency of Ed Balls being named. In 2015 the garland went to 'Cautious Cathy' from Nuneaton, a 35-year old mother.

A new study by Professor Paul Webb suggests that voters may be more to the left than we assumed: Left leaning

If I was teaching the module again next year, we would certainly look at this new evidence.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The arrival of Aston Villa Toryism?

Theresa May's joint chief of staff is Nick Timothy, an avid Aston Villa fan. Here, he draws lessons for politics from Villa's relegation: Lessons to be learned

Friday, 15 July 2016

Brexit does not mean an independent Scotland

As Theresa May heads to Scotland for her first visit as prime minister, this excellent blog article reminds us that Brexit may not lead to Scottish independence: Independence day?

Monday, 11 July 2016

Doing the decent thing

Andrea Leadsom did the right thing in standing down from the leadership contest. We can now proceed more quickly to a new prime minister being in office. There are certain formalities to be completed before Theresa May becomes party leader.

She will need to have a private conversation with David Cameron about a handover date. Sources suggest that Dave has been very chilled in recent days and I think that Sam Cam will be pleased to get her children out of the No.11 flat and the Downing Street security bubble.

David Cameron will then have to see the Queen to resign and she will then 'kiss hands' with Theresa May (not literally).

As Professor Robert Hazell of the UCL Constitution Unit has just made clear on Radio 5, the Cabinet manual states that if a prime minister resigns between elections, provided that his party has a majority in Parliament, that party decides who the successor should be.

People need to be reminded that this is not a presidential system and a party sustains a cabinet and prime minister. Even if Theresa wanted to call an early election, which I don't think she does, there is the obstacle of the five year Parliament act. On that see: Professor Lord Norton

The last thing the country needs now is another election.

It has now been announced that David Cameron will stand down on Wednesday. Theresa May will not need the more spacious No.11 flat or not immediately so the family can move out without undue haste or a Ken Clarke U-Haul van.