Changing to survive

Manchester town hall

An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pension

Mark Rusling  |  13 March 2014

Among the news this week, you might have missed one seemingly unimportant piece. Eric Pickles’ department has decided that English councillors, GLA members and the mayor of London will be forced to leave the local government pension scheme from May. Unlike members of parliament and, bizarrely, police and crime commissioners, councillors are deemed by Pickles …

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East Coast rail train

What matters is what does not work

Mark Rusling  |  10 March 2014

Consider these facts about the East Coast railway franchise. Between 2003 and 2009, when the franchise was privately owned, two operators failed and the average cost of a peak fare between York and London ballooned from £69 to £111.50 – a 62 per cent increase. Since the government stepped in and took it over in …

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When you’re in the bunker, use the wedge

Mark Rusling  |  7 February 2014

Wedge issues are part and parcel of politics. You can’t use them too often, but it is difficult not to use them at all. They are more often controversial than they are effective but, when successful, they create new coalitions of interest, split opponents and supporters and tell people whose side we’re on. Unfortunately for …

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Snakes and ladders

Too many snakes and not enough ladders

Mark Rusling  |  9 December 2013

Last month, the Swiss voted overwhelmingly against a proposal that was billed as a pay cap for the rich. Executive pay would have been limited to 12 times the amount given to the lowest paid in a firm – a proposal rejected by over 65 per cent of voters. Whatever the merits – or otherwise …

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People. Crowd. UNderground.

Keep it simple

Mark Rusling  |  1 November 2013

Those of us who knock on doors or watch lower league football often hear the same complaint: don’t complicate things; keep it simple! Whether it is the delights of watching York City or the difficulties of explaining policy on a Walthamstow doorstep, things are better when they are simple. That is certainly the case when …

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Ed Miliband 7 June

Tell it again, Ed

Mark Rusling  |  19 September 2013

This time last year, David Cameron was mocking Ed Miliband for advocating ‘predistribution’. Ed argued for a move away from an approach to low pay based purely on top-ups through the tax and welfare systems towards one in which welfare becomes less necessary as employees are paid a decent wage in the first place. At …

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Street of houses

Love will tear us apart?

Mark Rusling  |  14 August 2013

Last year, the philosopher Stephen Asma wrote a book with a title designed to ruffle leftwing feathers: Against Fairness. He argues that in ‘our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity’, going on …

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Clock Time

The ticking timebomb under Tory seats

Mark Rusling  |  12 July 2013

On 27 June, music fans were heading to Glastonbury and sports fans were glued to their TV sets as Roger Federer crashed out of Wimbledon. But political nerds were glued to a fascinating set of council by-elections. You weren’t? Well that’s OK because, like Flash bathroom cleaner, I’ve done the hard work, so you don’t …

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Margaret Thatcher

The type of class war we should believe in

Mark Rusling  |  13 June 2013

In the centre of York in the mid-1980s there used to be two pieces of graffiti on adjacent walls. One shouted, ‘No war but the class war’; the other advised: ‘Eat the rich, feed the poor’. Maybe the same person wrote them both? If so, it wasn’t the prime minister. Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have had …

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Margaret Thatcher

The march of Thatcher’s children

Mark Rusling  |  12 April 2013

Born at the start of the 1980s, I am, supposedly, one of Thatcher’s children. Isn’t that an incredible statement? Twenty-three years after Margaret Thatcher was booted out of power, her name defines a generation of people now in their early twenties and thirties. Had I been born a year or so earlier, I wouldn’t have …

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