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This blog will be closing shortly …

I’ve spent a year blogging here. It’s been good fun, but I’ve decided that it’s time to move on …

… so Alex’s Archives is moving to a new home at

We’re up and running over there with all the content you’re familiar with. But in time I will be looking to enhance the functionality of the site.

At the moment the new site has got a radically different new look. But I’ve not entirely made up my mind about that. So it’s very much a work in progress.

Goodbye for now. Hopefully see you over there soon.

Why bother?

Last Thursday saw this blog’s first anniversary. I’ve been thinking about why I put the time into it. There are hundreds – thousands – of bloggers out there. And that’s just in the politics field. Each blogger has his or her own mixture of reasons for launching their thoughts on an unsuspecting world that is – initially at least – pretty indifferent to them. Plenty of bloggers have shared their reasons. Maybe it has become conventional to do so. A bit of a cliché. It is surely a bit self-indulgent. But there you go.

Anyway, here are my thoughts, should you be interested. Read more of this post

The Q#3 quintet

Here are the five posts published on this blog between July and September that recorded the most hits:

  1. Dispatching rogue landlords (4 July)
  2. Crunch time for the Liberal Democrats – The NHS Bill and electoral oblivion (5 September)
  3. Could the riots be the beginning of the end for the Coalition?  (19 August)
  4. Policy, evidence and dogma – the homelessness episode (3 July)
  5. The Work Programme isn’t working – and that raises bigger issues (2 September)

Thanks for reading. And commenting. Even when you’re disagreeing with me :-)

Total Politics Blog Awards 2011

Voting is now open for this year’s Total Politics Blog Award. Voting is open until midnight on 19th August.

You need to vote for at least five blogs for your vote to count. You can vote for up to 10 blogs.

Click here to vote in the Total Politics Blog Awards 2011

The Q#2 quintet

Here are the five posts published on this blog between April and June that recorded the most hits:

  1. Taxpayers and ‘the right to the city’:  alternative narratives on cuts to Housing Benefit (25 April)
  2. Groundbreaking economic finding during higher education policy development? (4 April)
  3. Up to the task? Dealing with housing market volatility  (17 May)
  4. Think tanks and the policy process: right, wrong and possibly both at the same time (3 May)
  5. Harsh but fair? Marquand on the Liberal Democrat leadership (14 May)

Thanks for reading. And commenting. Even when you’re disagreeing with me :-)

Liberalism, Equality and the State – The SLF Conference

The first Social Liberal Forum annual conference – on the theme Liberalism, Equality and the State – is being held on 18th June at City University.

I’ll be saying my piece on the the compatibility of the Big Society and community politics – accountability and marketisation.

Here is the full list of speakers:

Vince Cable, Lee Chalmers, Evan Harris, Simon Hebditch, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne, Will Hutton, Neal Lawson, Alex Marsh, Mark Pack, Ed Randell, Alexis Rowell, Naomi Smith, Claire Tyler, Halina Ward

Read more of this post

The Q#1 quintet

Here are the five posts published on this blog between January and March that recorded the most hits:

  1. Monbiot’s tax take and the embedding of plutocracy: an urgent concern for Liberal Democrats (8 February)
  2. The mundane malfunctioning of markets – a tale of life and death (3 March)
  3. Economists, implicated (19 February)
  4. Housing demand – a role for status concerns? (27 January)
  5. Trade unions, street marches, and ConservativeHome’s 10 immoral commandments (27 March)

Monbiot’s tax take … is the most frequently read post since the blog started, as well as being included in the LDV Golden Dozen for that week.

Thanks for reading. And commenting. Even when you’re disagreeing with me 🙂

Industrial echoes

There is something poignant about encountering fragments of Britain’s industrial past. They evoke a way of life that no longer resonates. They hint at the era of Britain as the first industrial nation; an industrial power. They speak of a time when the country’s economic success was less dependent on the post-industrial cocktail of shopping, banking, and selling over-priced coffee to each other.

Today my partner and I walked north from Swansea Marina – previously the South Dock, before being redeveloped as apartments – to the Enterprise Park – an area which was once at the heart of the Lower Swansea Valley metal industries, before becoming a retail park. Much of the walk is on route 43 of the national cycleway. That means much of it follows an old railway route. Read more of this post

What a carve up! redux

When I read Jonathan Coe’s What a carve up! back in the 1990s it was as a satire on the deep unpleasantness of the Thatcher government. The rapaciousness of some of the characters was slightly cartoonish but none the less disturbing. Yet, the more I think about it the more it appears a work with a strong prophetic edge.

The book’s take on the Thatcher years and the extent to which the book’s protagonists were enamoured of private profit may have felt a bit over the top at the time – it was hard to imagine quite such odious people. Perhaps that was my youthful naivety back then.

But now we’re subjected to the regime of Thatcher’s children – turbo-Thatcherism. The direction of the current proposals for health reform suggest we’re back in Coe country again. And this time there’s a danger that Coe’s book could be taken as a documentary account of some of the thinking currently abroad. The commercial sector is circling around the NHS, sniffing major profit opportunities, and the government are keen to facilitate the process of hiving off functions to it.  Despite all the public protestations to the contrary. It’s all a bit depressing.