Alan Simpson's Blog

Willing the Ends, Willing the Means

The ‘Sun Ship’ (Das Sonnenschiff) is a small community in the Vauban district of Freiburg. Built in 2004, it is one of the earliest examples of ‘energy-plus’ housing; developments that generate more electricity than the community itself consumes. Powered entirely by solar energy (and storage), and designed to high standards of natural heating and cooling,…

The Turning Point

Something big is happening; really big. All the pillars of smug certainty are beginning to crumble. Nothing captured this more than the ‘waste’ sculpture taunting the G7 Summit in Cornwall. The ‘Mount Recyclemore’ sculpture – made from dumped e-waste materials – symbolised far more than the 53 million tonnes of electronic goods the world throws…

Net-zero, not-zero and ground-zero

What a mess we are in. Labour loses the Hartlepool by- election with a 16% swing to the Tories. A new North-South divide is opening up. With the exception of London, Labour no longer holds the hearts and minds of its conventional heartlands. So much for new leadership, new vision. What on earth is going…

Antigonish Labour?

Labour is lost. I say this in sadness more than anger. Anger is no substitute for answers. It clouds the fact that the Left could be just as lost as the Right. Boris Johnson has bought himself some ill-deserved credibility; slowly loosening the lockdown rules and stepping up the vaccination programme. Both are welcome. But…

Tony Benn: Still our Man for all Seasons

I find it hard to accept it is 7 years since Tony Benn died. I miss his wisdom, foresight, kindness and humour. Worse still, whether the country realises it or not, we are all the poorer for the loss of Benn’s political acumen and vision. Faced with some of the biggest existential challenges in human…

Bert versus the Dismantled State

We do ourselves no favours by treating the current Policing Bill just as an outrageous assault on a public right to protest. It is…Of course it is. But the violence targeted towards the police in Bristol (and the preceding violence by police themselves towards peaceful protesters) masks the scale of the assault on civil liberties…

The Disunited Kingdom – Radical federalism and the search for a new common-wealth

  Do not underestimate the scale of the democratic crisis facing Britain. Don’t kid yourselves either that it isn’t going to get a lot, lot worse. Brexit opened up wounds that will not easily heal. Mythical claims, wrapped up in sovereignty and identity politics, looked a lot different when viewed from the rotting mounds of…

We, the People – The case for Radical Federalism

Radical constitutional reform is no longer an option, it is an unavoidable necessity. The internal conflicts within the structure of the UK must be resolved. This paper is a contribution to the start of that debate, and sets out the reasons for reform, the principles upon which any future reform should be based, and the process for getting there.

Let them eat what?

Governments fall more often from let-downs than lock-downs. That’s why Marcus Rashford’s ‘end child food-poverty’ campaign has thrown British politics into a tiz. Who would have thought a young, black footballer would provide the leadership politics seems to lack. Although Rashford consistently says “This is not about politics: it is about humanity,” everyone understands the…

Beware a Covid Coalition

Britain’s ‘4 week national lockdown’ will not halt the rate at which Tory pandemic planning falls apart. Privately, there are calls for a ‘Grand Coalition’, a Government of National Unity to save the country. For Labour (and Britain) it would be the Kiss of the Spider Woman; something to be avoided as much as Covid…

The Prisoner

Are we the new Number 6? Don’t be under any illusions. This article offers no sanctuary for the advocates of ‘herd immunity’. As an answer to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a price too high. A colossal increase in death rates, and overwhelming the NHS, does not even bear thinking about. All the same, the growing…

The Politics of Uncertainty

The government’s educational omnishambles is stealing all the headlines at the moment. It pushes political incompetence to new limits. But behind the debacle lies a bigger crime. Boris Johnson is killing parliamentary democracy faster than the pandemic is killing people. And though Labour is immeasurably more virtuous, the Party struggles to lay a glove on…

Robin Hood Dies: the legend lives on

Robin Hood Dies: the legend lives on As news hits the press about the imminent demise of Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy company (RHE), I took a look at the plinth in front of St Mary’s church in the middle of Nottingham. The plinth offers a mythical version of Robin Hood’s demise; slowly being ‘bled’ to…

A crisis like no other

Tipping or turning: the choice is still ours We are in a bad place; a really bad place. The IMF predicts that the Covid pandemic will shrink the global economy by 5% this year, with a cumulative loss of around $9 trillion. Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) records a ‘lockdown’ economic collapse of over…

Who’s Lives Matter

(Freedom and Democracy) Across the world, sports men and women have been ‘taking the knee’ in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. What troubles me is the prospect of this becoming a trivialised gesture, wrapped up in processes that change nothing. Stripped of specific, disruptive, demands it could slip intothe trough of gesture politics.…