Labour’s Armitt infrastructure plan: a very good thing – my Spectator piece

cover_050714_issue-426x570Yesterday, Labour leader Ed Miliband unveiled the details of how his government would set up a national infrastructure commission or the UK if it won the general election next year. I think this is a very good idea, and I’ve done a blogpost for The Spectator magazine’s Coffee House blog saying so. You can read it here.

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The Adonis review: showing us the money

Andrew Adonis (L) at a train station (CC Flickr pic: dominiccampbell)

Andrew Adonis, left, at a train station (CC Flickr pic: dominiccampbell)

Lord Adonis, the Labour Party’s shadow infrastructure minister, may like train travel – the first time I saw him in person was on a Virgin train on our way back from his party conference, where he was killing time during a delay by listening to his iPod and drinking three cans of Heineken – but his long-awaited review into bulking up the economy published today doesn’t say as much about infrastructure as I, and others, had hoped. Continue reading

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As I said, and as MPs now say, PFI is dead

Last month I wrote that the British government had killed off its public-private partnerships programme. Today’s report from a committee of MPs confirms that – arguably the most important point in the report, though not one chosen as the ‘top line’ by the few mainstream media who’ve reported it (FT report here for instance). Continue reading

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China Development Bank and HS2: more paper tiger than dragon’s roar

David Cameron and Li Keqiang (CC pic: Number 10, Flickr

David Cameron and Li Keqiang (CC pic: Number 10, Flickr

Yesterday evening I was in Broadcasting House, the headquarters of BBC News, watching a big screen carrying an exclusive report from their business editor, Kamal Ahmed. China, he reported, is seeking to finance the construction of High Speed 2, the planned north-south rail network in the UK. Fascinating, and I don’t have a problem with the delicate way it was reported; but it will almost certainly never happen.

Ahmed wrote that Chinese construction firms were interested in building HS2, and that China Development Bank was interested in financing construction; this news was helpfully briefed to him on the occasion of the Chinese prime minister’s visit to the UK. Continue reading

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CVC: when infrastructure investing goes wrong

The Amazonas 3 communications satellite, which delivers broadband internet to South America. It is operated by Hispasat, in turn controlled by Abertis, in turn part owned by CVC

The Amazonas 3 communications satellite, which delivers broadband internet to South America. It is operated by Hispasat, in turn controlled by Abertis, in turn part owned by CVC (pic: Hispasat)

If (as I keep saying on this blog) now is such a good time to be investing in infrastructure, why has one of the world’s biggest private equity firms pulled out of investing in it altogether? Continue reading

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Energy prices and how to build nuclear power

Hinkley Point C, artist's impression

Hinkley Point C, artist’s impression

News that British energy regulator Ofgem has complained about the lack of transparency over energy prices pushes the issue of how we pay for our electricity back into the spotlight. Meanwhile, a centrist think-tank has published a report about a way to generate electricity more cheaply. They agree with me – and incidentally have pointed out that I correctly forecast how much profit was to be made from a very important energy project. Continue reading

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PFI is dead, and the UK government has killed it

Whisper it softly, lest the British government accuse you of describing something it hasn’t done. But they have. Silently, imperceptibly, and probably unconsciously, they have killed off the private finance initiative – the name commonly applied in this country to public-private partnership infrastructure projects. Continue reading

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