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Last updated September 2017

Blogs 2013

Archive of Blogs for the year


  • A voice in the wilderness - Classical painting by Caragaggio depicting St Jerome in the company of a skull as he writes at his desk
    A Voice in the Wilderness

    Not unlike a latter-day St Jerome, William Shawcross has reached the stage of contemplation and questioning in his tenure at the Charity Commission. He should be warned what happened to the saint of old, exiled to the wilderness for a prolonged period of penitence with only a friendly lion and scripture for company.

  • Wild world - Patient lies on hospital gurney being oevrseen by nurse
    Wild World

    I am guessing it is unlikely that you checked under your car this morning for explosives? Or that you vary your route to work to avoid being kidnapped. Plenty of people, aid workers, journalists, service personnel and other potential “targets” do so every day.

  • Chilling With Dave - David Cameron looking worried
    Chilling with Dave

    The Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill has a slightly Orwellian sound to it, don’t you think? Still, that is its proper name and we are not taking the risk of thinking up some smart aleck, popularist title for it like the ‘Chilling of Debate Bill’, as this has a habit of upsetting some people. It has though, been one of those pieces of legislation that seems to have got a lot of backs up.

  • In Deepest Wonga Land - Smug executive smoking a cigar
    In deepest Wonga Wonga land

    The press have been on the warpath again. The silly season was characterised by a great deal of negativity about foreign aid that provided a cover for all sorts of largely unspoken concern about migration and globalisation, and functioned as a useful insight into the preparations the fourth estate is making to influence public debate in the run-up to the next election.

  • Best Left Alone - Great Dane lies sleeping
    Best Left Alone

    The Cabinet Office has launched a new project: the Good Law initiative is “an appeal to everyone interested in the making and publishing of law to come together with a shared objective of making legislation work well for the users of today and tomorrow”. Hurrah we cry! Better late than never. If only someone had thought of this earlier, the Statute of Elizabeth in 1601 would have defined public benefit once and for all.

  • Sharp Practice

    The Queen’s speech comes around every year and never fails to impress, with the traditional pomp and ceremony of a great state occasion. One cannot but feel sympathy for Her Majesty having to utter lines like “in relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace”. At this time in the cycle Governments are often accused of playing it safe, as they seem to have been this year. With two years until the next election this is perhaps the prudent course.

  • Things not to do before you die - Crowd waving Scottish flag
    Things not to do before you die

    Put your money in a bank / Prepare for Scottish Independence / Live in Lewisham

  • Doing what it says on the can

    What would you say to a week-long bank holiday? Perhaps rightly an employer or politician that offered workers such a deal would be regarded with suspicion, or a gesture of a finger turning into one’s head. Most sensible people would expect there to be some sort of catch, some sort of comeback on such an apparent offer of generosity. As citizens of Greek Cyprus have indeed discovered, the free lunch comes with a hefty service charge.

  • Old Dogs New Tricks - Portrait of older construction worker
    Old Dogs, New Tricks

    Older workers who take courses to keep their skills up to date will be more likely to keep their jobs, claims David Willetts, the higher education minister. Mr Willetts said the age limit on student loans to cover tuition fees had been lifted, making a degree course “great value” for older people.

  • You've Got a Friend

    Oftentimes it falls to your humble servants at charitable umbrella bodies to brood about our place in the world and wonder how we fit into it. After swiftly disposing of the big existential stuff: does the outside world sufficiently recognise the fruits of our labours and is this adequately reflected in our terms and conditions? Our minds pass to the small stuff like: are we doing enough to demonstrate our independence from the state and did I get the notes of the meeting out in time?