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Posts from the ‘Other Thoughts’ Category

Goldilocks and British immigration policy post-Brexit

In the years I have been in the UK, I have observed the attitudes that many Britons have with regards to immigration. They want some, but not too much. They like aspects of it, but not others. They enjoy the investment it can bring, but not the costs it can bear. They have the quintessential Goldilocks attitude – not too hot, not too cold, not too firm, not too soft. Read more

The challenges of Universal Basic Income

There is little doubt amongst most of today’s political elite that the welfare state we see in some social democratic countries needs to be reinvigorated. One idea, in particular, has featured prominently in the media recently, and has been put forward as an answer to this problem: universal basic income (UBI). However, while UBI receives a marginal level of support, many economists, both from academia and industry, oppose the concept. I also do not believe that it would be an appropriate or successful solution to the issues which its supporters claim it challenges. I wish to suggest that the lessons of Russia’s Soviet past in particular indicate that it would be unwise to introduce UBI into any developed Western society. Read more

BREXIT – a battle of hearts and minds?

My interest in Brexit

Soon, Britons will be called on to vote on a question that, one way or another, could set the direction for the country’s economic, social and political future.  It is no surprise, therefore, that the question is one that is arousing a lot of fiery and emotional debate in the media and other public forums.  And as if the issue were not emotive enough as it is, Putin has recently been brought into it, with speculation about the possible role of Russia in stirring up discord and encouraging support for Brexit.

I will give my views on both of these issues.  But for now, just to say Read more

Magnets for Growth

“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)

Crony capitalism is the subject of considerable and often misguided debate. It is an economic system where those who are inappropriately close to government officials are given unfair advantages, commonly in the form of financial incentives. As a person with a regulated European fund and yet on the receiving end of baseless allegations of crony capitalism, this is a topic I follow closely.

I am a frequent reader of The Economist, a publication which prides itself on its quality of research, but  I was very surprised by an article that I recently read which featured an updated ‘crony capitalism index’.  Read more

Lessons from Space – Poyekhali! (Let’s go!)

“Чтобы стать крылатым, нужно стремление к полету” – Юрий Гагарин

“In order to grow wings, you must first have the desire to fly” – Yuri Gagarin


Russia has always been a leader in the space industry. Below, I highlight just some of Russia’s major successes in the field, which I believe have had a lasting impact on the sector as a whole. Read more

London and Moscow share their masterpieces

The news that London’s National Portrait Gallery (‘NPG’) and Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery will exchange a range of masterpieces this year suggests to me that the underlying channels of cooperation which exist between these two nations of art lovers are still as important as ever. Read more

Should Russia look East or West for economic prosperity?

There have been many reports in recent weeks about Russia pivoting towards China and speculation that the Eastern market will soon replace Europe’s. Indeed, a number of key business deals...

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SCO and BRICS: Forging International and Regional Connections

“На одном колесе не уедешь”

Башкирская пословица

“You won’t get far on only one wheel”

Bashkir proverb highlighting the importance of preparation and cooperation.

This summer, the parallel summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS in the Russian city of Ufa attracted plenty of media attention, many focusing on their geopolitical aspects. Of course these are important, and in my view the high-level encounters which the summits facilitate can provide a fresh forum for dialogue, not only between nations with growing ties such as Russia and China, but also among those with potential tensions, notably India and Pakistan. In addition, I want to highlight an aspect of the Ufa conferences that is often overlooked, namely the fact that the very location of these summits, in the capital city of the Bashkir minority (unknown to many non-Russians), highlights Russia’s considerable regional investment ambitions. Continue reading

Staying the course in international cooperation

At this rather complex time in international affairs, a recent story from the world of sailing provides an inspiring example of global cooperation to anyone, be they in the world of business, politics or sport.

A trimaran named Qingdao China from the port of the same name – captained by the Chinese skipper Guo Chuan – has become the first ever racing boat to travel through the Arctic Northeast Passage (Scuttlebutt).

This record-breaking thirteen-day journey from Murmansk to the Bering Strait demonstrates what is possible when individuals from diverse backgrounds pool their resources. Continue reading

BBC Newshour Extra: panel discussion on Russo-West relations

Earlier this week, I participated in a panel discussion on the Russo-West relationship, organised by the BBC World Service. It took place on the side-lines of the Conservative Party Conference, and my fellow panellists included BBC’s Olexiy Solohubenko and Bridget Kendall, Dr Liam Fox MP, Daniel Kawczynski MP, and James Coomarasamy (moderator). Continue reading