London School of Economics and Political Science

Howard Davies, Europe, Brown and the politicization of our institutions

Howard Davies is reported in Le Figaro as saying:

"On Europe, we do not yet know if Sarkozy is a friend or an enemy.... Selling the Brussels result will be arduous for Brown… It is crucial for him that Sarkozy continues to defend the idea that the new treaty does not mean much. The slightest suspicion that this treaty is the first step on a new federal adventure will be blown up out of all proportion. Any triumphalism about the withdrawal of the reference to competition will make Brown’s life very difficult. For the first time since the rejection by de Gaulle of our request for accession to the common market, a British government finds itself in the uncomfortable position of being liable to a French president. One false move, one word too many from the Elysée, and Prime Minister Brown will have big problems. Brown, who has waited so long and impatiently for his moment, is particularly frustrated at not being in charge on the European agenda. That means that he is condemned, whether he likes it or not, to keeping close relations with Sarkozy. Brown cannot let him leave his sight." (Hat-tip to OpenEurope for spotting this and translating it.)

Howard Davies is Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), before which he was Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), before which he was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, before which he was Director-General of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI). All roles in which he should have eschewed political partisanship. And all organizations (with the possible exception of the Bank) of which there is a strong whiff of Third-Way politicization. Now look at that statement again.

Do the LibDems know what "liberal" means?

Iain Dale has demolished in a few short words Ming Campbell's proposal to abuse local-authority powers to get more social housing built, so effectively that even the LibDem NorfolkBlogger agrees with him. This has provoked an unintentionally funny response on NorfolkBlogger's site from Tim Leunig, Lecturer in Economic History at the LSE, and original author of Ming's proposal:

"In what sense are CLAs illiberal?
1) Allow local authorities total control over how many houses are built in their area
2) Allow local authorities total control over what proportion are social houses
3) Will lead to lower house price inflation, so that hopefully your child and mine can afford to leave home in 2030

Freedom and social justice: a good combination, surely?"

In what sense is "total control" by the authorities "illiberal"? If you need to ask, Tim, you are probably beyond help.