Expectations of the Queen's Speech, in terms of economic measures, were low. Sadly, they turn out to be right. Nothing that was announced today will make much difference either to growth in the economy in the short-term or its potential to grow in the medium-term.
Asking 'does aid work?' is as absurd a question as 'do schools work?' or 'is government good?' Some aid works well and some doesn't. Sometimes schools fail. Sometimes governments get things wrong.
Each successive government of course blames the last for the financial mess it inherited but the truth is that the blame game pales in respect to apportioning blame for the 2008 global financial disaster.
One of the key areas of concern with Help to Buy is the second home option. This is obviously aimed at people who do not need help to get on the ladder and encourages the greed culture of owning multiple properties which could be a pitfall in the recovery of the property market. The recession should have taught people that a house is a home first and foremost- unfortunately this scheme has the potential to produce collective amnesia.
My, we are a gloomy lot. Last week, I discussed the possible impact of a triple-dip recession. Last Thursday's GDP figures suggest that Britain's economy has so far avoided this fate. However, it is also clear that the government's hopes of steady growth of 2 - 3% a year have yet to be realised. And YouGov research for the Resolution Foundation finds that five years of economic troubles have left a deep mark on public opinion.
Fifteen years ago Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and other statesmen mediated the un-mediatable and created the Northern Ireland that we know today. Some see the bargain as a grand failure. The creation of a parochial sectarian state suspended in a form of purgatory with a bloody history and no future.
Commentators who support the changes will focus on the simplification of the welfare system and improvement in work incentives that this new benefit will herald. Those worried about the impacts will wring their hands about likely difficulties with on-line claims, financial management and a small number of people who stand to receive less than under the current system. Both of these groups have a point.
I would respectfully submit that there is no such thing as a triple-dip recession. It is not as if the periods of expansion separating the dips were characterised by Chinese (or even German) growth. We have instead been in a six-year economic stall where growth has barely fluctuated by more than a few tenths of a per cent either side of zero. Growth, or lack of it, has largely become a rounding error.
Independence is a simple thing really. The ability to do as one pleases without outside interference. True, no country is truly independent in today's globalized world. But it is fallacious for Salmond is lead a vanguard suggesting independence would bring radical change to Scotland.
An unprecedented triple-dip recession has been averted, but yesterday's lacklustre growth figures mean our economy is simply back to where it was six months ago. This continues the overall picture of a flatlining economy in Britain ever since George Osborne's last spending review. In fact, this is now the weakest recovery for over 100 years.
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.
John Mann MP's comments in response to Thursday's UK GDP figures, for the first quarter of 2013, display a sort of unhelpful ignorance that is not conducive to any meaningful discussion on economic policy, or constructing a worthwhile criticism of the government's economic policy.
The importance of these figures isn't whether or not we have entered a triple dip, but that the UK economy is stuck in a rut. Real GDP remains 2.6 per cent below its peak level five years ago and has increased by just 0.4 per cent over the last two and a half years. After five years, this is disappointing news not only for the government but for businesses and consumers, who are experiencing a continued squeeze on their living standards.
It almost goes without saying that the arts have an intrinsic value - the 'arts for arts sake' argument has been made countlessly and convincingly. But, clearly we are living in tough times - and we therefore need to make sure that the incredible instrumental potential of culture is both appreciated and maximised.
I am 100 per cent convinced that Ed Miliband has courage, conviction and passion like no prime minister, since Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street. In that sense, he is her heir.
A Department for Infrastructure should be created. This super ministry would provide more than leadership for spending departments. It could consolidate infrastructure resources and talent spread thinly through the rest of Whitehall.