Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

by Stephen Tall on November 3, 2012

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Where now for the immigration debate? – Sarah Mulley in the New Statesman with an excellent analysis: ‘the public don’t (on the whole) feel that immigration is a problem in their own local communities, although a large majority do feel that it is a problem for the country as a whole.’

The Empire Strikes Back: Ofqual, and the omnishambles of assessment – Tom Bennett on the latest GCSE controversy: ‘let’s be clear: the system has been shifty; it was designed, if anyone can’t see it, to facilitate and encourage systematic grade manipulation’.

Leveson inquiry: prejudging the judge – The Guardian editorialises: ‘We believe in independent regulation, both from politicians and the press itself.’

The global war on free speech – it’s always worth listening to John Kampfner: ‘A raucous, argumentative society is a healthy society. … So how come a general view has been allowed to take hold that our press is out of control? ‘

Review of George Osborne: The Austerity Chancellor – Lord Ashcroft reviews a biography and so much more, including the Tories’ 2010 election: ‘The book’s pitiless description of a confused campaign with no coherent theme and no one in charge will be painfully familiar to anyone who was involved with it.’

Battle of the Chancellors: We don’t need a Plan B – Isabel Hardman in the Spectator recounts the week’s big debate, featuring Lord Matthew Oakeshott inter alia: ‘He attacked the banks and said the coalition agreement hadn’t delivered on its first promise for the ‘banking system to serve business, not the other way round’.’

CentreForum Liberal Hero of the Week – find out why my choice this week was Conservative treasury minister David Gauke.

Evidence alone is not enough – Jeremy Hardie and Nancy Cartwright move beyond the mantra of evidence-based policy: ‘There are too many examples where doing here what worked there, failed because if a failure to see what was relevant to success beyond the fact that the intervention had worked somewhere else.’

Obama Does It Better – if you doubt the power of randomised control trials to inform effective decision-making, get a load of this: ‘Democrats have gotten smarter about acknowledging the limitations of solely directing persuasion efforts to the middle part of the spectrum, and are ending this election season with a major advantage in managing risk as they set out to engage the few votes whose minds can still be won.’ (It makes more sense when you read it, trust me.)

The Simple Case for Saying Obama Is the Favorite – if you’re a poll addict there’s no better dealer than Nate Silver: ‘just keep it simple and average the polls together, warts and all. You will find that Mr. Obama is the Electoral College favorite.’

Our American endorsement – the Economist makes its choice: ‘this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect [Obama].’

What is the point of asking what the point of voting is? – The Economist’s Democracy in America blog in sprightly, brilliant form: ‘There is a psychological benefit to throwing up your hands and telling yourself that nothing you could have done would have made a difference anyway. I have no empathy for people who are engaged in telling themselves that story. They should feel guilty.’

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.