The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers and the web

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait argues that the American obsession with "centrism" and "moderation" paralyses independent thought:

[T]aking the middle ground between the two parties is not a way of liberating yourself from dogma. It's simply a way of lashing your own judgement to the prevailing sentiments of the moment. Fifty years ago, the notion that the federal government should cover the cost of health care for all senior citizens was too liberal for even many mainstream Democrats to swallow. These days, even right-wing Republicans embrace it.

In the Guardian, David Marquand writes that Thomas Paine's arguments for the American Revolution should inspire David Cameron to support root-and-branch reform of the British state:

[T]here is more to the Whig tradition to which Cameron patently belongs than meets the eye. Over the French Revolution, Edmund Burke -- the greatest ornament of the Whig tradition -- differed bitterly with Tom Paine, the democratic republican par excellence. But they were on the same side over the American one. If Cameron wants to be a real progressive, instead of a phoney one in Blair's mould, he should start by reading Burke and Paine on the struggle between the American colonists and the British crown.

The Independent's Hamish McRae says that Barack Obama's recent speech on health care should teach British politicians how to discuss individual responsibility:

There is a string of areas where people throughout the developed world will have to take greater responsibility for themselves. Health care is one, because the great health issues of an ageing population will be more about people leading generally healthy lifestyles than receiving hi-tech medical interventions . . . President Obama gets all this and articulates it in a way that no European politician would dare do.

The Times's leader argues that David Cameron is wrong not to support higher salaries for MPs:

We, the public, are effectively MPs' employers. Like any employer, if we want a better staff, we must be prepared to pay a better wage. The alternative is a parliament made up of those who do not expect one, or those who do not need one. A smaller salary still risks limiting the House of Commons to toffs, trustafarians and retired hedge-fund managers, dabbling. A political class not closer to the people, but farther away.

In the Daily Mail, Alex Brummer writes that Alistair Darling may be vindicated as the economy begins to emerge from recession:

The apparent return to health of the economy does mean that Alistair Darling's rose-tinted promise of an upturn before the end of this year -- and in time for an election next spring -- does now seem a possibility rather than a forlorn hope.