The End of Politics: New Labour and the Folly of Managerialism by Chris Dillow.
Had this on my wishlist for ages. Book by the author of the excellent Stumbling and Mumbling blog. The book is not as dated as the subtitle suggests, as what the author describes as "managerialism" is alive and well in politics since then.
Essentially managerialism is a claim made to be beyond ideology; that there is no need to choose between tough tradeoffs like equality/efficiency since clever policies can maximize both; that central governments have good predictive powers and extensive control over the economy; that it's possible to be generally "effective" without being effective at any particular ideological goal.
These were certainly strongly evident in the New Labour era. Chris Dillow goes through a fair amount of politics and economics to show that most of these claims are false. New Labour actually did quite a lot to assist various groups: increased benefits for poorer pensioners, the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit for poorer workers. However it did so somewhat stealthily: claiming these things were part of general quest for economic growth, rather than a policy of fairness or compassion. As such it already seems strange to read someone still talking about these concrete policies.
The ConDem government that succeeded New Labour has largely continued this kind of managerialism. However, "austerity" has taken the place of "globalization" and "competitiveness" as the general excuse for "whatever we wanted to do anyway".
Overall, somewhat interesting, but a lot of this will be familiar to long-term readers of the blog. You'd need to be a fairly obsessive economics and politics nerd to get anything out of this. So I liked it, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it to other people.
What I'm Watching
Wanted something mindless while doing dumb-bells so watched 300-ish fantasy epic The Immortals. Was a bit too mindless though. Some nice design elements from director Tarsem Singh (now just "Tarsem" on the credits, but an occasional "hey, cool helmet" can't really redeem the lack of plot, pace, humour, tension, witty dialogue, appealing characters or originality.
Starting the new job in a few days. Pretty busy: we've been doing a bit of househunting, hoping to move out of this rented place. Drove up to see the folks about a week ago. (Bit more in the Whine Cellar). It's a three and a half hour drive according to Google. Journey up was fine: baby didn't wake up till we were more than half-way there and just had a brief stop, made it in four hours. Journey back wasn't so great: left a bit late, stopped three times, and hit the rush hour in London, took six hours. Baby was still fairly happy though, he seems to like cars and buses.
Sci/Tech. Fixing E.T.
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