Maurice Stonefrost is dead

by Harry on November 10, 2008

Guardian obit here. Someone told me that the official assigned to Harry Perkins in A Very British Coup was modelled on him, but that may be apocryphal. This isn’t:

At the GLC Stonefrost worked with Labour and Conservative leaderships. During the moderate Labour administration of 1973-77, he had to negotiate with central government and the City to avoid any risk of London following New York into a financial mess. Then he ran the GLC’s finances for the radical Conservative leader Sir Horace Cutler.

But his work during the years of Ken Livingstone’s leadership, from 1981, allowed him to demonstrate his extraordinary capacity to run a big institution at a difficult time. Not only did he allow Livingstone to pursue his brand of politics within a legitimate budgetary framework, but when it came to the campaign against abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher’s government, Stonefrost generated charts showing how unworkable the post-abolition world would be. His best effort was a “spider diagram” with hundreds of lines from London government organisations to each other, showing how abolition would create fragmentation and chaos.

At the height of the Thatcher v Livingstone struggle, Stonefrost’s officials pulled off an audacious stunt by manipulating the government’s complex local-government finance system so as to suck in £200m of additional grant after the end of a financial year. Worse, other authorities ended up paying for the shift of resources. The manoeuvre was wholly legal and very clever. It is hard to think of any other finance chief who would have had the ingenuity or confidence to do such a thing. Moreover, the government was left fuming with rage at seeing its own financial weaponry turned against itself.

One of the greatest municipal civil servants of his generation. No wikipedia entry.

Larry Solum has just posted an update of his Legal Theory Lexicon entry on Distributive Justice. I keep telling (graduate and undergraduate) students that they need to look at the Legal Theory Lexicon as their first stop for just about any concept that Solum covers. Its really an amazing resource. A decade ago you’d have needed access to a very good library to get hold of something half as good; now, anyone might come across it just by browsing.

Amity Shlaes: A Public Service Reminder

by Henry Farrell on November 10, 2008

I’m a bit worried that in all of the “pouring”: “of”: “cold”: “water”: on assorted “spanking”: “fantasies”: in: re unemployment during the Depression, people are losing track of the main point that needs to be hammered home: that Amity Shlaes is an unscrupulous hack. Readers may need to be reminded of her final two op-ed columns before her inglorious and swift departure from the pages of the _Financial Times._ [click to continue…]

Cognitive Disability Conference

by Harry on November 10, 2008

The Cognitive Disability conference at which Michael spoke (and to which he referred here) is now available as a podcast (more or less) in its entirety here. Some of the podcasts come through rather slowly, and, annoyingly, because I heard that it was so much fun, I can’t get the final session to load. Still, Michael’s talk comes through fine.

Images galore

by Eszter Hargittai on November 10, 2008

Almost a week after the elections, I continue to be obsessed with related news reading up on people involved with the campaign and the transition team as well as the myriad of interesting opinion pieces. I’ve also found some interesting visuals. Here are links to a few in case you haven’t seen them yet: