We can't afford to shoot the messenger

Last week saw the first and last Autumn Statement delivered by Chancellor Phillip Hammond. It’s not that I foresee his imminent demise – it’s just the government finally acknowledged the more sensible option in future is to do the preliminary Budget itself at this time of year rather than try to portray things as a seasonal update. That procedural change was one of the very few tangible things to come out of the proceedings. Indeed, there was probably more meat left on a Thanksgiving turkey carcass than in Hammond’s speech. Then again, that’s not entirely his fault. The underlying message is that Brexit (the name still sounds like a crispbread to me) is an aberration for the Treasury that wi

Business networks hold us together

There’s nothing like a sense of impending crisis to focus the mind. Indeed, given all the global uncertainty going around, maybe it’s a sensible option to be looking after the pennies while the pound is obliged to look after itself on the money markets. There’s also probably not been a more appropriate time to make sure we fight our corner for resources. At least, that was the message from Swansea council leader Rob Stewart speaking to the Federation of Small Businesses last week. Our part of south west Wales faces many challenges. Yet the region currently looks well positioned to play to a few strengths. I know that FSB chairman Julie Williamson holds the opinion that it is regional busines

How did America get Trumped?

Regular readers of this column will know that I’m partial to movie references. This time around I find myself recalling a scene toward the end of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ where the lead character observes in bemused fashion: “Events have surely taken a turn for the surreal”. I imagine that something very similar was said across most of the planet on hearing the news that the world’s wealthiest democracy had elected Donald J. Trump as its 45th president. A week later, and having read a chunk of analysis pieces as to how the impossible happened, I come away with the impression that the best rationale available among all the political punditry is that it had something to do with the alignment of t

When Brexit means something else

The manner in which people received the news about the landmark Brexit announcement outside the High Court seemed to confirm that one law you can rely upon in politics these days is that for every action, you now get a totally disproportionate reaction. I suppose it needed a weekend of reflection for talk of revolts, rebellions and hanging judges from the lamp-posts to be supplemented by something approaching reasonable. Legal eagles must forgive my own crude analysis, but as I understand things, the judgement of the court is that the power of prerogative enjoyed by the executive (and which basically allows rule by decree) does not apply when it comes to revoking the original 1972 decision t

Are we getting regeneration wrong?

Every so often, a bit of grit gets into the giant machine of progress. It very seldom slows things down but it’s enough to make someone ask awkward questions about the future. That’s what happened when academic Mark Lang recently queried whether the billion pounds pencilled in for an M4 relief road is likely to produce anything like the economic benefit to match its estimated cost. His current forecast is that it won’t. Dr Lang is associate director at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). His recent report suggests that big buck infrastructure projects such as the South Wales Metro have little actual practical effect on surrounding towns and communities. I heard similar viewpoint

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