Is 'authentic karaoke' the best we can hope for from the oxymoronic George Osborne?

I recently attended a 'karaoke competition'. As an occasional vocal exhibitionist, the competition struck me as oxymoronic. Karaoke should never be 'competitive' and judgemental. At its essence, karaoke is open to anyone - however good or bad at singing - who wants to have a bit of fun, entertain those in the room, and who doesn't mind embarrassing themselves in the process.


Once one begins thinking 'oxymorons', it is not long before one is bound to reflect on George Osborne's narrative for 2015 -20, as he furiously campaigns to move next door - of 'growth', the 'northern powerhouse', and of Labour as the 'deficit deniers' compared to his fiscal prudence.

But a serious look at the evidence suggests this narrative is more sound-bite than substantive....which got me thinking...about Osborne as a master craftsman of a political form I christened 'authentic karaoke'.....

Another oxymoron, as Osborne gets one in before the 'authentic karaoke' of Northern Powerhouse 

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  • January 2016: New Year, new extensive and intimidating challenges for local growth agendas - the LGIU blog and fuller briefing...
  • Xmas/New Year 2015/16: Do you believe in Father Xmas? Seasonal greetings with read-across from some of the great Xmas anthems...
  • December 2015: There are acute needs to embrace evidence-based policy-making in the 'Powerhouse(s)' and 'Engine(s)', and to address strategic planning gaps.
  • December 2015: Delighted to be working again with LGA on impact of Spending Review/Autumn Statement on local growth. 17 major implications in this presentation!
  • November 2015: A lot more fuel is required for Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine to compete globally, says this piece in Planning;and this month's follow-up suggests universities are a major part of the equation
  • October 2015: Very interested to do a piece for LGIU Scotland on the 'learning' from England's devolution journey for Scotland's LAs. Suspect it has relevance south of the border too!
  • October 2015: Gathering pace of the University of Warwick's Chancellor's Commission on the place of the University in Coventry, Warwickshire and Midlands going forward - matched by widespread national interest from HEIs and local authorities at this UUK event at which I presented the Warwick experience.
  • October 2015: Delighted to be working again with CURDS colleagues on decentralisation as part of an ESRC Impact Acceleration project. Two stimulating and insightful discussions held in London and Manchester, with a third in Newcastle in November.
  • September 2015: More challenges for local leadership teams as government abdicates responsibility for the housing crisis, and ONS seems to lose confidence in labour market statistics
  • September 2015: A major LGIU briefing on apprenticeships - can local leadership teams rise to the challenge?
  • August/September 2015: The first two public hearings of the UoW Chancellor's Commission on Coventry and Warwickshire were well attended, surfaced serious and important discussions on the future role of the university in city and county, and two blogs from me!
  • August 2015: Delighted to be part of the launch of a new 'economic leadership team' for South Kesteven - bringing together district, county, LEP, public, private and third sectors. 
  • August 2015: Can 'planning' really help deliver happiness - and why internal migration is much more of a challenge for local planners than international movements -
  • July 2015: First meeting of University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission on the future roles of University in Coventry, Warwickshire and the Midlands. Will be exploring a lot of the ground covered in this presentation to University of Northampton Conference on the Urban University
  • June 2015: 'It's all about the narrative...'. How Galeano's 'Soccer in Sun and Shadow' can tell us a lot about England post-general-election -
  • June 2015: Produced a major LGIU briefing on enhanced devolution, which i hope may be helpful as local authorities and partners revisit and redevelop their propositions post-election in light of Chancellor and Greg Clark's statements, and of Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
  • May 2015: Many thanks to Digital Leaders Network for making my analysis of 'TechNation' a Manager's Choice. A number of choices for both national and local leadership teams if we are to make TechNation a UK-wide reality.
  • May 2015: A first piece for Municipal Journal - trying a slightly left-field look at Combined Authorities (CAs). Beware of Whitehall bearing 'colonial' CA gifts; and go beyond crude 'isomorphic mimicry' of Greater Manchester. Take a look at and tell me what you think.
  • May 2015: After the general election result, progressives need to take stock quickly. 'How Cameron stole the election and destroyed the country...'seeks to contribute to those debates, and a new strategy to 2020 and beyond. 
  • April 2015: Delighted to have been asked to support the University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission on the 'place of the university in the region in its second 50 years'. Will undoubtedly explore some of the issues in this LGIU policy briefing on 'Universities as anchor institutions' and HE-LA relations.
  • March 2015: Pleased to continue to develop strong health economy relationships with local growth agendas - as illustrated in this blog for NHS Confederation - come back to me for any further details.
  • March 2015: I have now undertaken a number of commissions on appraising Combined Authorities, Growth Boards, LA and LEP-based constructs for leading local economies. Some of the lessons of these are captured in this LGIU pre-general election briefing 'Leadership and Governance of Local Growth'.
  • February 2015: Pleased to contribute to PAS "Economic Growth: Value of Planning" Conference with this presentation, stimulating interesting discussions. Complemented by first new column for Planning magazine - this piece on the future of strategic planning 
  • February 2015: Delighted to present an England perspective on Smart Specialisation (S3) with Kevin Richardson of HEFCE to the EU Cohesion Policy Conference in Riga. A vibrant Latvian and RSA-organised event stimulated an intelligent discussion on our recommendations for EU S3 developments over 2015-20. If you want a copy of the full paper, or a more substantive discussion (S3 is likely to be even more prominent in the final England ERDF Operational Programme), please get in touch.
  • January 2015: As part of the work on framing an engineering growth plan for Outer East London, Thurrock and Basildon, had a fascinating tour of the area's assets and opportunities with CEME and the four local authorities. Atrocious weather could still not obscure or dampen the potential!

  • January 2015: A milestone in the work of the Corsham Institute (Ci) as new web site, and  Corsham Community TV is launched. Every community should have one! Big hopes that 2015 will be the year that Ci - the UK Centre for Digital Society - comes into its own

  • Farewell to 2014 and towards a Happy New Year 2015...and how we might make 2015 a good year for local growth; and, however much things change, they also stay the same!






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