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Quickfire

Fresh perspectives on today's stories

4:13 pm

The real anti-growth coalition is anti-immigrant

If Liz Truss really wants growth, she should start with the solution that would make our economy more competitive, flexible and dynamic.

By Jonathan Portes

In 2010, when I was chief economist in the Cabinet Office, I wrote a note to David Cameron suggesting that his manifesto pledge to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” was not compatible with sustained economic growth. He didn’t want to listen. But after a few years, during which Theresa May did her best to prevent students and skilled workers from outside the EU (as well as those who had the poor judgement to marry a British citizen) moving here, with precisely the damaging results that I had predicted, the government quietly reversed course. Indeed, the new post-Brexit migration system is a lot more pro-growth than many of us had expected, to the point where May’s adviser Nick ...

12:06 pm

Abolish true crime

The marketing for Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer series proves it: the genre is morally indefensible.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

If you exited the Tube at Tottenham Court Road station in central London this week and looked up, you might have come face to face with a serial killer. On the side of the Outernet building, on a giant LED screen, Jeffrey Dahmer – as portrayed by the actor Evan Peters in the current Netflix series about his crimes – looms over the street, impossible to look away from, 100 times larger than life-sized. His portrait is coloured with a warm lustre, set between metallic gold panels. Dahmer – who murdered and dismembered 17 men between 1978 and 1991 – has, quite literally, been exalted: raised high over the city in a gilded frame like a god. This absurdly distasteful piece ...

8:00 am

What people miss when they criticise inheritance tax

Only 4 per cent of estates end up having to pay it.

By James Ball

To attack inheritance tax is to – wittingly or otherwise – defend the principle of unearned wealth passing through the generations. Such an attack prevents any move towards equality in either opportunity or outcome. So for the City minister Andrew Griffith to refer to it as the one tax he would “most like to see eliminated” should be a horrifying statement that is tantamount to political suicide. We have been hoodwinked to oppose one of the perilously few functional wealth taxes that exist in the UK. There are many arguments against the tax, of course. It’s just that all of them are bogus. The biggest fear of inheritance tax is that it will leave the recently widowed partner of the deceased homeless. ...

2 days ago

Suella Braverman dreams of a flight to Rwanda because it could never come true

The UN has suggested the government deportation plan is illegal – and it’s being challenged in the High Court.

By Jonn Elledge

Martin Luther King famously had a dream, that his four little children would one day be judged, not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. Few of us have dreams, in either the conscious or unconscious sense, which can claim to even approach that level. I suppose I could describe my irritational hope that the government commits to building both the Northern Powerhouse Railway and the eastern leg of HS2 as a dream; but the more honest statement would be “I have a dream, that one day I have to retake my A-levels, and nobody bothered to warn me.” (That one’s surprisingly common.) Suella Braverman’s dream struggles to rise even to that level. “I would ...

2 days ago

Why is Elon Musk wasting the goodwill he’s built up over Ukraine?

After making a fool of himself on Twitter, it’s no surprise we’re nervous at the thought of him owning it.

By Oz Katerji

While the news is currently focused on Elon Musk saying that he will buy Twitter after all, this isn’t the only reason the richest man in the world has been making headlines this week. “Ukraine-Russia Peace”, mused Musk, 51, on Twitter on Monday, before rattling off a list of policy proposals that Russian state media outlets fawned over for days, including handing Crimea to Russia, imposing "neutrality" on Ukraine and a “redo” of Putin’s sham secession referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories. There was a poll asking whether users agreed with his ridiculous plans. The reaction from Ukrainians was swift and brutal, and appears to have blindsided the hapless billionaire. Even Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, weighed in with his own poll asking ...

2 days ago

Liz Truss wants to govern a country that does not exist

The Prime Minister’s ideology blinds her to reality: Britain wants stability, not free-market revolution.

By George Eaton

This is the moment that Liz Truss has craved. After decades during which soggy statism has held sway, she has finally arrived to unchain Britannia. It took only a few weeks for ideology to collide with reality. The abolition of the 45p tax rate self-destructed upon arrival. The Bank of England was forced to intervene to save the government from its own recklessness. In polls voters have fled from the Conservative Party as if it were a new coronavirus. But the definition of an ideologue is someone who maintains their faith in defiance of reality. In her first party conference speech as Conservative leader, Truss reaffirmed her faith. For too long, she declared, the UK had been held back by an “anti-growth ...

3 days ago

Universal Credit is cruel, inefficient and counterproductive – it must be scrapped

My friend risks being penalised for attending a job interview. Where’s the sense in that?

By Ben Ramanauskas

Last Thursday night my friend burst into tears explaining that the job centre was deciding whether or not to cut her Universal Credit payments because she had missed an appointment. The reason she missed her appointment was because she had a job interview. She had given the job centre plenty of notice, but her absence still had to be passed onto a decision maker because she had previously missed other appointments – for other job interviews, and once because she’d had Covid. You don’t have to be an expert on the welfare system to see that this is an obvious flaw. Proponents of Universal Credit claim that it incentivises people to work, yet the system is designed in such a way ...

3 days ago

“We get it”: even the government uses the hollow language of corporate branding

Kwasi Kwarteng’s U-turn message affects a humanity and compassion that isn’t really there.

By Imogen West-Knights

The Tories have a relatability problem. And a credibility problem. And a problem understanding basic economics. But let's consider the first, variously demonstrated by Rishi Sunak showing he doesn’t know how to pay in a supermarket; Jacob Rees-Mogg’s haunted Victorian-esque family photographs; and the Conservative chairman Jake Berry suggesting that people struggling with bills might like to consider being paid more. Last week’s mini-Budget promised such policies as tax cuts for corporations, a removal of the cap on bankers’ bonuses, and the abolition of the 45p tax rate for those who earn the most – the latter of which Kwasi Kwarteng has since, embarrassingly, reneged on. The Conservatives have never looked more like corporate vampires in their high tower, uninterested in encountering real people other than to transfer wealth from them to the ...