Three questions to ask your parliamentary candidates

nef has long argued that we need systematic reform of our financial system to make it work for people and the planet. So far, the Election Campaign hasn’t touched on banking or finance, which means a crucial debate on the future of our economy is not being had. You can help the cause for financial reform by asking your candidates what their party plans to do to fix the banks.

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Co-production: new path for public services

There’s something in the air at the moment. A combination of spring air, Icelandic ash, and the almost tangible pulsations of change vibrating up and down the country. The election comes. And with it is a sense that we can review and take stock of how we, as a country work. We look to new solutions, to innovative models and ideas which might point the new to a new direction – particularly, in our case, for how we might run our public services.

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Empty skies provide a chance to reconsider the costs and benefits of air travel

In the aftermath of the suspension of air travel as a result of volcanic ash, the economic implications are likely to be considered for some time after everyone is safely home.  Clearly, an abrupt, chaotic and unexpected disruption to life and work on this scale is highly costly to the economy and to society.  But as we weigh up the costs of this event, we should take the opportunity for an open, broad-minded look at the true social value of large-scale air travel, and the trade-offs including risks, that we cannot avoid.

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Think every vote counts? Think again.

I went to vote at the last general election with a heavy heart. I knew full well that my vote wouldn’t really count towards the result as I live in a safe seat.  Straight after voting I felt really angry about the whole system and while out walking my dog the idea came to me that I must be able to work out how much my vote didn’t count. Make a statistician angry and he’ll fight back with numbers.

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Ration Me Up at the Design Museum, London

Yesterday myself and a few colleagues headed down to the Design Museum, London for the launch of Sustainable Futures – Can Design Save the World? a new exhibition that:

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80 months and counting…

At the turn of the 1900s in the US there was a progressive campaign to establish a shorter, eight-hour working day. It was opposed by the National Association of Manufacturers (Nam) as potentially ruinous to the economy – on much the same grounds that the abolition of slavery, the introduction of the maximum load line in shipping and most other progressive reforms throughout history have been opposed. In the 1920s Nam also lobbied against a shorter, five-day working week. More

Freedom fighters can be happy too

Juliet and Saamah’s letter to the Times today points some of the misconceptions in last Saturday’s leading article on well-being economics. And there’s plenty more that they could have said, given enough space. For example, the leader argues that

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Letter to the Times: Why government policy on well-being matters

Sir,

We agree that when making policy, a broad account of flourishing — including autonomy, meaningful activities and strong relationships — is more useful than a narrow focus on happiness, which risks denoting merely momentary or passing pleasures (“The end of government”, leading article, Mar 27). But given the wide range of influences on our experiences of life, government policy — however it is shaped — will inescapably affect our wellbeing, for good or for ill.

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Thinking outside the Red Box

Is it Alistair Darling, who gave the minimum nod necessary on curtailing banking excesses to appease public anger, and seems bent on returning to business as usual? Is it George Osborne, sliding effortlessly into the old Conservative comfort zone of quick, punishing public spending cuts? How quickly people forget that the cuts agenda is driven by a massive private sector, market failure. Or, is it Vince Cable who, of the three, first called the banks’ failure and is most outspoken on reform?

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New steps along the road to a Post Bank

When nef began to put together the Post Bank Coalition 15 months ago it was because we knew that this vital local economic and community network was being neglected and run down to the point where it might crumble to a few thousand post offices.

Successive governments have treated the Post Office as a series of problems which they hoped would go away- rather than as a trusted and flexible organisation which props up- and more- thousands of communities both rural and urban.

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