Thinker's Corner

Farewell to the Family? (Revised) by Patricia Morgan (The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2 Lord North Street, London SWIP 3LB, 0171-799 3745, £8). Morgan argues that the plight of the traditional family is deteriorating under new Labour. The first edition of Farewell to the Family? appeared in January 1995 and represented a critique by the new right of the Conservatives' record on the family. In this revised edition Morgan finds things are even worse under Tony Blair, whose introduction of the childcare allowance and abolition of the marriage allowance penalise the traditional family unit. The report concludes that these recent reforms will lead to children growing up without the support of a stable family background. The consequences will be ill-health, low educational achievement and criminal activity.

The Many Ways of Governance by Martin Ricketts (The Social Affairs Unit, 5/6 Morley House, 314-322 Regent Street, London WIR 5AB, 0171-637 4356, £7.50). Ricketts begins his report by criticising activists who call for structural changes to make corporations more accountable. This, according to Ricketts, misses the point. There are plenty of firms, such as mutuals, partnerships and co-operatives, that owe responsibility to other bodies of opinion. The report argues that it is up to the activist to make more consumers care about ownership structures, instead of price and quality. Ricketts says that joint-stock companies responsible to groups other than shareholders become inefficient and sluggish. "To enforce by government regulation a fully fledged stakeholder model of the firm would result in every business corporation being run like a university." The result could turn a potential first-class business into a third-class one.

This article first appeared in the 26 July 1999 issue of the New Statesman, I took tea with Pinochet