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The Nature of Prosperity

April 11, 2018

It was Oscar Wilde who said that ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.’ It was in this spirit that Surrey University’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and the William Morris  Society convened a symposium in London in February entitled ‘The nature of […]

Learning lessons from Donald Trump’s America

December 19, 2017

During 2017 two countries signed up to the 2015 Paris Accords – Nicaragua and Syria and one, the USA  pulled out – though the formal process means  it won’t actually leave until the day after the next Presidential election. The USA is a global outlier on this – as on much else, gun control, abortion […]

Doughnut economics

October 8, 2017

There is a long tradition of books about what is wrong with conventional economics; ‘Limits to Growth’ for example, was published 45 years ago.  The intervening years have seen quite a few of their ideas absorbed into mainstream thinking and some of their prophesies come to fruition. But It is a cause of frustration to […]

Martin Parr’s ‘Oxford’: Fawlty Towers meets Trump Towers

September 14, 2017

Martin Parr’s Latest exhibition ‘Oxford’, has just opened as part of Photo Oxford 2017 at the Bodleian Library’s Weston Library.  This exhibition won’t disappoint Parr fans, but it raises some awkward questions for its sponsors, Oxford University Press and the Bodleian Library – especially the accompanying book. Parr was commissioned to take a characteristic look […]

People power: our changing energy equation

July 4, 2017

In the latter part of the recent General Election campaign the Green Party paraded around central London holding placards with giant question marks on them. It was a way of drawing attention to their question ‘where has debate on the environment gone in this election?’ It is not an unfair question in a context where […]

Conspicuous consumpton is replaced by the ‘paygo’ economy

May 7, 2017

In 2012 the anthropologist Daniel Miller published a book called Consumption and its consequences. For those not familiar with him he is something of an expert on the way we relate to ‘stuff’- other books of his, and he is prolific, include The comfort of things  and Stuff. He is interested in exploring the different […]

A strong green and mutual vision can help Labour engage new voters

May 6, 2017

For the past few months I’ve been out campaigning as Labour and Co-op Party candidate in the Oxfordshire county council election in the Oxford suburbs of Kennington and Radley. The division is just outside the City boundary and has no Labour tradition. It is a Lib Dem seat and I won’t win this time round. […]

A ‘gig economy’ or walking a tightrope?

January 3, 2017

The ‘sharing economy’ has become a popular concept recently. It is a term with multiple meanings  and depending on  one’s viewpoint is one of the positive outcomes of the digital economy and globalisation, or one of its most negative and destructive manifestations.  Essentially it is a term applied to a range of short term part-time […]

New Lanark: the ‘great experiment’

October 14, 2016

I visited New Lanark, social reformer Robert Owen’s experimental village on the banks of the upper Clyde in the summer. It is almost forty years since I was last there. The magic of the place hasn’t changed but the ‘visitor experience’ certainly has.  New Lanark now gets almost half a million visitors a year – […]

Cycling data helps cities

August 15, 2016

Have you heard of Strava? Nor had I until a couple of months ago and I’m a fairly keen cyclist. In truth if you are familiar with it you are likely to be young, tech savvy, and a keen runner or cyclist.   Strava is an app developed, where else, in San Francisco, for athletes, runners […]