Foreword The colossal impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has somewhat eclipsed the memories of a Britain divided by the Brexit vote. But the years running up to the Brexit referendum – and the prolonged arguments that followed in its wake – created an atmosphere that was uniquely febrile and divisive. In September 2018, in the ... Continue reading
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SUMMARY Free speech is, with free trade, freedom of enterprise and security of property, one of the key features of classical liberalism. It is currently being undermined, for a variety of plausible reasons, by government, social and mainstream media companies, and the behaviour of individuals, firms and non-profit organisations. Having thrown off the obvious shackles ... Continue reading
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The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is a World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty that has a Secretariat which holds a biennial Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss tobacco control issues. Despite the treaty’s commitment to tobacco harm reduction, the WHO and FCTC secretariat have never embraced e-cigarettes but have instead called for excessive ... Continue reading
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Summary Advertising – ‘commercial speech’ - is a form of communication which brings considerable benefits to the economy and society, and restrictions on it need clear justification. Until the mid-1950s advertising was for the most part unregulated, subject only to laws relating to fraud and defamation which also affect other forms of speech. Since then, ... Continue reading
Summary There is currently much concern with questions of freedom of speech and expression, much of it focused on the appearance of so-called ‘wokeness’ and its manifestations in corporate life, the media, and (most notably) the academy. Historically the idea of free expression was seen as dangerous or a heresy. But this has changed over ... Continue reading
Summary Online communication and sharing of user generated content have become part of everyday life, but have long worried governments, which have sought to monitor and gain access for reasons of security and crime prevention. Until recently, digital platforms were considered to be socially beneficial, and legal measures were passed in jurisdictions including the EU ... Continue reading
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Summary National debt figures need perspective. This can come from viewing them as a ratio to national income. That ratio has surged in the last 20 years. But despite many assertions, the debt-to-income ratios of the past few years are not unprecedented. When the ratio reached such peaks in the past, much concern was expressed. ... Continue reading
Summary Since March 2020, central banks in major economies have been (partially) monetising government deficits through the purchase of a significant part of the new debt issued by the government. In the UK, this has resulted in the rate of growth of money broadly-defined (M4) reaching an extraordinary 14 per cent in 2020. Advocates of ... Continue reading
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What is democracy? How does it work? What are its strengths – and its shortcomings? Two-thirds of the world’s population, in over 100 countries, live under governments that claim to be democratic. Yet few of those governments live up to the ideals of democracy, or respect its key principles and institutions. Here, author Eamonn Butler ... Continue reading
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Summary India is at a crossroads. As the UK’s Prime Minister prepares to meet Indian leaders virtually, he promises an Enhanced Trade Partnership, possibly leading to a full Free Trade Agreement (FTA). There are important commercial reasons for this agreement, but perhaps more importantly, there are powerful geopolitical reasons. India could be brought into an ... Continue reading