When I hear critics of the World Trade Organization, I'm increasingly reminded of the great moment in Monty Python's Life of Brian where a bunch of would-be Judean rebels ask "what have the Romans ever done for us?"... Fast-forward to the present day and criticisms of the WTO might well be met with a similar riposte.
The fact that Germany is not as strong as we believe means that the country may not be able to lift Europe out of its economic woe. If this is really the case, we are pinning our high hope on the wrong leader. It therefore makes a lot more sense for us to come up with new ways to solve the Eurozone crisis...
I was honoured recently to receive the Sheila McKechnie award for the campaigning work I've done with the Robin Hood Tax. Ironically, at exactly the same moment, dozens of financial journalists were frantically typing articles about how the tax was dead in Europe following a European announcement it could be illegal. ..
The fact is, as you know, tourists don't flock to this great country to watch the footie, or eat in the restaurants. They come to visit the stately homes, for example. How much are all the volunteers who work in these places worth? Culture, one industry that is actually growing , has always punched above its weight. It is one of the key factors in making the UK the Number One nation in the world for the arts.
With a budget deficit larger than that of Greece, a reduction in public spending is essential if the government wants to achieve sustainable and continuing economic growth. But the ring-fencing of areas of very high government spending has made it much harder for the Chancellor to come remotely close to balancing the books.
The first substantive line of George Osborne's budget speech was: "We've now cut the deficit not by a quarter, but by a third". This might be surprising to anybody who read my earlier blog here, which pointed out that the deficit had (measured on a rolling twelve- month basis) been rising, not falling, for the last year or so.