James Kirkup

James Kirkup

James Kirkup is a partner at Apella Advisors and a senior fellow at the Social Market Foundation.

Labour MPs need to grow up

Westminster is full of clever people who spend a lot of time stupidly making simple things complicated. The story of Nathalie Elphicke’s defection to Labour is a case in point. This is a simple story, or should be. Someone who used to tell voters to vote Conservative is now telling voters to vote Labour. It’s

How to defuse the pension timebomb

Another day, another smart report arguing for higher payments into our pensions. Standard Life and WPI Economics have published a paper saying that minimum contribution rates into workplace pensions must rise. Today, workers contribute a minimum of 5 per cent of their salary to their pensions while their employer pays in 3 per cent. Not

A pension crisis is brewing

Ten years ago, George Osborne blew up the British private pension system. Because pensions are boring and complicated and move slowly, a lot of people didn’t really notice. But the shrapnel from the blast continues to ricochet today and is starting to hit.  Chancellor Osborne’s Budget on 19 March 2014 contained the surprise announcement of ‘pension freedoms’.

Britain is too sick

Britain is running out of workers. The UK population may be growing, but the share of that population that is economically active is falling. More than 9.2 million working-age adults are out of the labour market today, and the number is growing.  This might be the biggest story in today’s Budget, and certainly one that

Does Labour want an anti-CV revolution?

Alison McGovern, Labour’s shadow employment minister is one of those politicians  who are always worth watching. She combines the ability to look and speak like a normal human being – a rare thing at Westminster – with a genuine policy wonk’s fascination for data and trends and ideas.   She also has fans at the top

The pension bomb facing Generation X

Happy birthday to me. Today I turn 48. I’m celebrating in an age-appropriate way: a trip to the physio for a stiff shoulder, then publishing some gloomy words about pensions. Being born in 1976 makes me part of what marketers called Generation X. Arguably though, the 1965 to 1980 cohort should be tagged the ‘Forgotten Generation’.

The surprising truth about ‘Nanny State’ Britain

This week, a Conservative Prime Minister announced he was banning something – disposable vapes. The reaction to that ban – or rather, the lack of reaction – is a signpost to future UK health policy, which will lean towards interventionism in the years ahead. Companies making and selling food and drink should pay close attention.

I voted Remain, but there should be more pro-Brexit lords

Liz Truss has sent Matthew Elliott to the House of Lords in her resignation honours list. There are some obvious and predictable reactions to this.   First, the sheer effrontery of our least successful PM in exercising her traditional right to an honours list. She lasted less time than that lettuce. She was awful. How dare she? Etc

Alistair Darling was a great man

The death of Alistair Darling is a grievous loss. British politics has lost a man of decency, character, integrity and humour. He was a good man, in a world where good men are scarce. Darling’s most prominent role in politics was as chancellor to prime minister Gordon Brown from 2007 until 2010, a turbulent period

In defence of David Cameron’s comeback

David Cameron is back. This will make some people unhappy, because they dislike the man. Common reasons for disliking Dave include Brexit and austerity. But there’s also the Greensill lobbying and just the general, all-pervading shiny-faced smugness of a man who, one suspects, never really gave a toss about any of it and was just playing

Are we diluting the meaning of ‘mental health’?

What does ‘mental health’ mean? Is the answer to that question undergoing a generational change, as younger people become more aware of – and likely to talk about – their mental state and to discuss it in terms of ‘mental health’? And will that cultural change have economic effects? These are some of the questions

The truth about Rachel Reeves’ ‘plagiarism’

With all due respect to the diligent journalists who revealed it, I don’t think it’s a big deal that some bits of Rachel Reeves’ book about women in economics were copied from Wikipedia.  The book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, was launched at an Institute for Government event in Westminster on Wednesday evening. An

How Brits turned soft on crime

It is almost exactly 30 years since a young Labour politician told his party’s annual conference in Brighton that as home secretary, he would be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’. That line helped make Tony Blair a star, since it allowed a left-wing party to grab an issue where its

Rowing back on his climate plan, Starmer is in it to win it

Over almost 30 years in and around Westminster, I’ve noted some persistent and essential differences in the culture and mindset of our two big political parties. Tories generally want to win elections, and are prepared to subordinate pretty much all else to that objective. How else to explain their regular mutation into a new form of

The trouble with Britain’s net migration figure

Where to start with the net migration figures? As someone who has generally defended liberal immigration policies, I could just shout, yet again, about the economic benefits. That would no doubt annoy a few readers, get some angry clicks, and add precisely nothing to the conversation.   Or I could point out that this is what Britain voted