Why corporations need proper history

The late, great entrepreneur Anita Roddick used to describe the corporate bosses dominate our lives as “dinosaurs in pinstripes’.

She coined the phrase accepting her first business award.  There was a sharp intake of breath and suddenly there was Robert Maxwell, of all people, storming out in protest.

She developed the idea later.  The corporations were entities, with all the rights of human beings, but which could show no emotions apart from greed and fear.  They were able to make a hefty meal of their own tails. 

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Vince Cable and the Green New Deal

“Making the Green New Deal real.”  That was Vince Cable’s phrase in his speech yesterday, and the fact that he used the title of a report published by nef, and the ongoing campaign, is important.  It demonstrates something of nef’s influence, but also that the political tide is shifting in the direction of major financial reform – and major green investment.

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Localism needs local banks

We’re all localists now. From Eric Pickles to Ed Miliband, they are all of them gargling with the idea of devolving power. And it’s a funny feeling.  The Liberal Democrats seemed to be nursing a commitment to localism almost alone all the time that Labour and Conservative were centralising power.

Now suddenly, they turn out to have been localists all along. Why didn’t I notice it at the time?

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More talk about pay and value

Over the course of last week BBC Radio 4 featured the issue of pay and worth in a number of programmes, culminating in yesterday’s excellent Radio 4 debate chaired by Nick Robinson. 

Hooray for that!  Now we need to keep it going and build more and more discussion of this topic across society.

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Message in a bottle

There is an EU directive which insists that electrical equipment manufacturers take responsibility for disposing of their equipment after its useful life.  So it is high time that the same applied to the food and drinks industry. That's why the new campaign from CPRE (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) is well worth supporting. More

Two tales of a city

nef's latest report on 'clone towns', Reimagining the High Street, clearly touched a nerve yesterday, not least because we named Cambridge as having Britain's blandest shopping street. Many people have been baffled and upset at why one of the country's most iconic and historic places has been crowned with such a dubious honour.

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Tech-no-fix: why technical fixes won’t mitigate climate change

Three years ago, I felt like a bit of a loan voice. I’d been increasingly highlighting my concerns about a mounting reliance on a magic bullet (or a number of them) to mitigate against climate change. But, most of the time, I just got glazed looks, or doe-eyed responses from proponents of technological fixes (e.g. nuclear or carbon capture and storage) that: ‘all I care about is preventing runaway climate change’. As if I don’t.

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Not enough space for carbon in the ground?

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves the capture of the greenhouse gas CO2 produced from the combustion of fossil fuels. The captured and compressed CO2 is then transported to a location for long-term storage. While several proposals for the storage phase exist, geological storage has received the most attention. This is partly because it is believed to have the least logistical constraints.

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Conspicuous skies: a lesson from Eyjafjallajökull

The reality of the closed airspace due to the volcanic plume from an eruption near the Icelandic glacier Eyjafjallajoekull (pronounced aya-feeyapla-yurkul) hit me whilst strolling back along the Southbank on a warm spring Sunday afternoon. As I walked along the river, the world seemed strangely calm. The overhead roar of jet engines from aircraft as they march with military precession along the flight path to Heathrow, were conspicuous by their absence.

But, such events also reveal that we are hugely dependent on what often seems like hidden infrastructure, woven together to create an intricate web of interdependence across the globe.

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Tony Blair and the laws of economics

I happened to hear Anthony Seldon (Blair's biographer) talking about that biography on the BBC over the weekend, and - apart from saying you learned nothing new from it - he listed three things in particular which the book should have shed some light on, but didn't.

1.  Why did Blair join the Labour Party?  

2.  Why did his decade in power achieve so little?  OK, peace in Northern Ireland and devolution to Scotland and Wales, plus the banking bubble - but what else?
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