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Simon Wren-Lewis wins the 2016 New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy

The Oxford professor and former adviser to the Bank of England is rewarded for taking political economy to a lay audience.

The winner of the 2016 New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy is today announced as Professor Simon Wren-Lewis.

The respected macroeconomist has advised the Bank of England and is now a professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is the author of a lively, frequently updated and widely read blog, Mainly Macro.

The prize is jointly run by the New Statesman and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) at the University of Sheffield.

It is given to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience over the preceding two or three years. It carries an honorarium and an invitation to give a New Statesman/SPERI lecture in London.

This year’s lecture will be held on Tuesday, November 22 at the Emmanuel Centre in London at 6pm.

The judges chose Wren-Lewis because of his commitment to presenting his ideas in an accessible, challenging way for both professional and lay readers of his work. Recent subjects have included the economic untruths peddled in the Brexit debate, and how academics might have better engaged with the public.

Simon Wren-Lewis said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive the New Statesman/SPERI Prize, and I confess a little surprised given the strength of the shortlist. The move to austerity in most of the major countries in 2010 showed the importance of communicating economic knowledge to both policy makers and the public, and helped inspire my own efforts in that direction. As that policy continued despite mounting evidence of the harm it was doing, it became important to understand why policymakers were ignoring the academic consensus. With Brexit we find this consensus apparently ignored by the public. My prize lecture will ask why this is happening, and how economists and the media should respond.”

Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI, said: “Simon Wren-Lewis embodies excellently the mix of qualities we were all looking for in relation to the NS/SPERI Prize for Political Economy – namely, a critical mindset, originality in research and an active commitment to public engagement."

Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, said: “Far from having had enough of experts, this country needs them more than ever. The combination of insight, intelligence and accessibility in Simon’s writing makes him the perfect guide to our turbulent economic and political times.”

The Prize Jury was Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman; George Eaton, Political Editor of the New Statesman; Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI; Professor Andrew Gamble, professorial fellow at SPERI; Rachel Laurence of the New Economics Foundation; and Lord (Stewart) Wood, former adviser to Ed Miliband MP.

The first biennial New Statesman/SPERI Prize was won in 2014 by Mariana Mazzucato, a professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex. Her 2013 book The Entrepreneurial State contained a wealth of examples showing how the state – not just the private sector – could foster innovation.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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