Opinionomics: Cream of the commentators

The best of the blogs and op-eds from this morning and last night

1. Will there be a British Business Bank? (BBC)

Following the leak of Vince Cable's letter to the Chancellor, and the Treasury acknowledging that he was overruled, Robert Peston asks, "what is the state of play on the government's ambition to correct the perceived lack of credit for small and medium-sized businesses?"

2. Recalculating Romney’s Four Percent Gimmick (The Cato Institute)

Christopher Preble takes a look, from a hard-libertarian angle, at Mitt Romney's promise to spend 4 per cent of GDP on the military.

3. Can Matter succeed? (Reuters)

Felix Salmond looks at innovative new journalism startup Matter, and debates whether or not it has a chance.

4. Knights, damsels, and tax-advantaged debt buybacks (FT alphaville)

Lisa Pollack explains exactly what the dodgy tax deal that sparked Barclay's wrist-slapping from HMRC involved, saying, "It’s as if the Knights dressed up as Damsels and rescued themselves."

5. Scale models (Free Exchange)

The Economist explains the importance of transport costs and returns to scale in looking at where future economic activity is likely to end up.

Vince Cable arrives for a cabinet meeting. Credit: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Gerald Kaufman dies aged 86

Before becoming an MP, Kaufman's varied career included a stint as the NS' theatre critic.

Gerald Kaufman, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and former theatre critic at the New Statesman, has died.

Kaufman, who served as the MP for Manchester Gorton continuously from 1970, had a varied career before entering Parliament, working for the Fabian Society in addition to his flourishing career in journalism and as a satirist, writing for That Was The Week That Was and as a leader writer on the Mirror. In 1965, he exchanged the press for politics, working as a press officer and an aide to Harold Wilson before he was elected to parliament in 1970.

Upon Labour’s return to office in 1974, he served as a junior minister until the party’s defeat in 1979, and on the opposition frontbenches until 1992, reaching the position of shadow foreign secretary. In 1999, he was chair of the Man Booker Prize, which that year was won by JM Coetzee’s Disgrace.

His death opens up a by-election in Manchester Gorton, which Labour is expected to win. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.