June 14, 2011
With a residential population of just under 70 000 but with a daily workforce close on one million, my constituency mailbag is regularly filled with letters from business folk, often from small or medium-sized companies. In the wake of the credit crunch, many of them asked the same question: given that the government has poured billions into propping up the banks, why am I finding it difficult to secure credit for my business?...
June 7, 2011
Four short years ago, Britain reflected upon the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of Slavery Act. At that time, amidst all the self-congratulatory celebration, I suggested our renewed focus should be on refreshing our resolve in tackling the modern equivalent of slavery: human trafficking. Last month I was able to initiate a parliamentary debate on this issue and set out the extent of the current day blight (the full debate can be read here). Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transfer and harbouring of men, women and children so that they can be exploited for forced labour, sexual services or domestic servitude...
May 30, 2011
Mark is currently the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Azerbaijan and in Whitsun recess, led a delegation of MPs and members of the House of Lords to Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city. The UK is the largest Western investor in Azerbaijan and the APPG is keen to strengthen relations between our two nations. Whilst Azerbaijan is known primarily for its reserves of oil and gas, the... .
May 17, 2011
It remains a sensible working assumption that the coalition will sustain for the full five year term of this parliament. Incumbents are notoriously difficult to prise out of Downing Street. Against all odds (or so it seemed) John Major survived for virtually a full term after the collapse of his economic policy in September 1992; similarly even Gordon Brown could not be ousted from the Premiership in spite of apparently perennial terminal crises in the quarter-decade from October 2007...
May 11, 2011
Possession, whether in the world of property or politics, is nine-tenths of the law. The truth of this maxim lay at the heart of the hardnosed tactical calculation by our Party leadership in the fraught few days following the General Election which resulted in the formation of a coalition one year ago today. The negotiating team’s key goal was to get David Cameron through the door of 10 Downing Street as quickly as possible. Not quite at any cost, but the details of accommodation made with our erstwhile Liberal Democrats opponents could be sorted out in the weeks, months and years to come...
May 6, 2011
It is to the eternal credit of us Londoners that we deal with travel disruption by rolling our eyes, having a quiet grumble but carrying calmly on. However, I suspect the latest call from the RMT union's Bob Crow for six days of industrial action over two weeks makes a lot of people want to escalate their muffled irritation to open outrage.
May 5, 2011
The violent death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US forces on the first day of the month in some respects neatly closes the final chapter of a decade-long story. Journalistic speculation aside, it is impossible yet to grasp the wider consequences. Bin Laden’s potency may for some years have been symbolic rather than operational. But his death provides an equally symbolic victory to the United States as a pictorial counterpart to the iconic image of passenger jets piercing the Twin Towers. .
April 27, 2011
Now that some dust has started to settle on the Independent Banking Commission’s interim report on reform of the industry it would be wise to recognise this as merely the opening salvo in what promises to be a prolonged battle. Amidst the smooth consensual tone of the IBC’s report no one should be under any illusions that this reflects merely the starting point in the reform process. Negotiations between the Commission (and by extension the UK government) and the banking fraternity alongside their public affairs advisers will now begin in earnest. ...
April 12, 2011
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Sir Simon Milton, London’s Deputy Mayor, yesterday evening (11 April). Sir Simon epitomised better than anyone the quote from the past US President, Ronald Reagan, that “there is no limit to what you can achieve politically if you do not care who takes the credit”. That is not to say that Simon was simply a back-room political operator. Indeed as a youthful, innovative and highly effective leader of Westminster City Council during 2000-2007 he was a prominent political figure in his own right.
April 7, 2011
Observers of global economic trends will have noticed the paradox that whilst size of national markets is perceived to bring with it unmitigated potential benefits, there is increasing public hostility to large global institutions and corporations. Hot on the heels of the BRIC group of nations, has emerged the CIVETS amalgam of developing countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). It is these nations enjoying critical population mass, and a demographic skewed strongly towards those under the age of 25, which are near universally regarded as locations of likely optimal economic growth in the decades ahead. ...