Thinker's Corner

Creating Wealth from Waste by Robin Murray (Demos, Panton House, 25 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4EN, 0171-321 2200, £11.95) The Blairite think-tank Demos has its finger on the pulse of politics. Is it Kosovo or Northern Ireland? No. It's incinerators. The report is a critique of the current government's policy on waste, soon to be outlined in the government's waste strategy, published next month. In criticising the government's over-dependence on hazardous waste-burning incinerators, Murray points out that Britain's two main incinerators rank among our worst air-polluters. The government is planning to build another 55 to 170. The report also castigates the government's record on recycling - just 8 per cent of household waste is recycled. Murray's is a zero waste strategy, similar to those adopted in California, Australia and Canada: local intensive recycling programmes, markets for secondary materials and new forms of public/private partnerships. The eventual aim is for zero waste - or 100 per cent recycling. Such an approach would also, Murray claims, reduce risks and, eventually, save money. For eco-warriors and anyone who takes an interest in the environment, it's worth having a look at.

Sporting Lives - a vision for sport in the UK (Institute for Public Policy Research, 30-32 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7RA, 0171-470 6100, £6.50) by Jim Godfrey and Gerald Holtham identifies sport as a powerful force within national life that can increase the UK's prestige, foster social cohesion and promote a general feel-good factor. Godfrey and Holtham propose a reduction in the number of sports supported by the state, the promotion of competitive sports in schools and a high-level shake-up of sport's governing bodies, with a focus on increased professionalism, strict target-setting and prudent financial management. These measures are all part of their ten-year plan to increase levels of popular participation and improve Britain's record in international competition.

This article first appeared in the 12 July 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Were chimps the first socialists?