Sam Ashworth-Hayes, CapX

Sam Ashworth-Hayes


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Past articles by Sam:

Cold exposure: a spell of snow reveals all Britain's flaws and rigidities

One of life’s little pleasures is watching Londoners drive after a spot of light snow. There is a curiously balletic quality to a Range Rover gliding gently across the road to bump into a set of metal railings accompanied by melodious swearing from the driver, not unlike an elephant attempting to take up ice-skating. We […] → Read More

This festive strike nightmare reflects a profound problem with the British state

A quick look at the news confirms that Britain has been given the world’s worst advent calendar. Pick a date in December, and behind the door there’s an exciting new strike; will it be Royal Mail, teachers, bus drivers, railway staff, nurses, or ambulance workers today? Better hope you aren’t sick or travelling! And with […] → Read More

What is behind the New York Times' bizarre coverage of British crime?

There’s a fun game to be played with the New York Times’ coverage of British crime. It’s very simple, and you can play along at home: how many paragraphs will it take the paper to tell you what the sympathetic victim of the legal system actually did? Take this recent piece on modern slavery. The […] → Read More

Faced with anti-housing MPs, Rishi Sunak has a clear choice – party or country?

At times, it seems like the primary barrier to governing Britain is the near impossibility of governing the Conservative Party. After a month-long honeymoon where MPs solemnly spoke of the importance of unity and the need to bring the party together, Rishi Sunak has been forced to pull a vote on planning reforms as his […] → Read More

The Autumn Statement confirms this is no country for young men

The last time a set of books looked this bad was – well, this week, when we finally got a glimpse into the black hole left by FTX losing several billion down the back of the world’s largest sofa. Britain’s young people can at least reflect that they are probably in better shape than FTX […] → Read More

Britain faces a litany of economic woes – and monetary policy risks making it even worse

Between the 2008 recession, the 2012 double-dip and the bleak period where Russell Brand was considered a serious political commentator, the last 14 years haven’t been a great period to live in Britain. To this litany of ills we can now add the Bank of England’s prediction of the longest recession in a century. Sadly […] → Read More

Why we don't need a general election

Rishi Sunak has passed his first test as Prime Minister; a cabinet has been assembled that manages to bring together the left and right of the party, combine continuity with fresh faces, and at least signal an attempt at reforging unity after months of dispute. He has also managed to defend his choice to reappoint Suella Braverman […] → Read More

After a failed Big Bang, Hunt signals the return of the Sensibles

Liz Truss won the leadership race, in part, by mimicking Margaret Thatcher’s dress sense; she hoped to govern by mimicking her economic reforms. With ideological ally Kwasi Kwarteng installed as Chancellor, it was time for Big Bang 2.0; changes to the City and regulatory system that would unchain the British economy, generating the growth to […] → Read More

Of all the u-turns, a big hike in corporation tax rise is Truss' worst option

At this point, it’s safe to say that Liz Truss’ mini-budget was not a political success. Pairing tax cuts with a massive and highly uncertain commitment to subsidising energy demand in the price cap left markets twitchy about increased domestic demand driving up inflation and interest rates, and a lack of detail on the growth-generating […] → Read More

There is an 'anti-growth coalition' – but it's not who Liz Truss thinks it is

Embattled and outflanked, Liz Truss and her band of loyalists are doubling down: their priorities, listed in her closing speech to the Conservative Party conference, are still ‘growth, growth, and growth’. Against this agenda stands the anti-growth coalition: ‘Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP, the militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think-tanks’. […] → Read More

Why does the IMF care more about equality than growth?

The IMF is less than impressed with Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s first mini-budget. In the kind of admonishment you’d normally expect them to make about an emerging economy, they said, ‘the nature of the UK measures will likely increase inequality… [the government might want to] reevaluate the tax measures, especially those that benefit high […] → Read More

The pro-growth 'gamble' isn't as big as you think

Friday’s de facto budget has thrown commentators on all sides into a tailspin. On the left, people like Owen Jones – who debated the tax cuts with me on BBC 5 Live – described Kwasi Kwarteng’s Growth Plan as ‘class war’. On the right, Gavin Barwell described the tax cuts as fiscally ‘reckless’. And across […] → Read More

Yes, freeports can boost economic growth – but only if they focus on the right things

With Liz Truss safely ensconced in Number 10 and the government obesity strategy in full retreat, ‘full-fat freeports’ are back on the menu, much to the delight of Conservatives who see them as a swashbuckling statement of intent. Trade wonks, who tend to think Britain isn’t the sort of country set up to benefit from […] → Read More

How the next Prime Minister can get through winter

In a week’s time Britain will have a new Prime Minister, and the same problems. Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will not be able to wave a magic wand and summon new energy supplies into being across Europe. They will be able to decide how much support to offer households, and how much to offer […] → Read More

What would Britain look like if it was run by benign economists?

Congratulations Britain; having swept to power in a bloodless coup, I’ve been appointed dictator for life, free to make policy without the constraints of ‘elections’, ‘a free and fair press’, or indeed ‘sanity’. I’m sure you’re all absolutely thrilled. Luckily for you, it turns out my behaviour is almost exactly that of the benevolent social […] → Read More

Downing St's answer to Sturgeon's latest referendum gambit should be short and simple

The Scottish National Party’s approach to independence can be roughly summarised as follows: we only have to be lucky once, you have to be lucky every time. Having failed to win the referendum described by Alex Salmond as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’, the SNP’s tactics have shifted to finding any excuse to hold […] → Read More

Pensioners are getting a 10% raise – but Britain's young people are triple-locked out

Boris Johnson and the Bank of England are petrified of a wage-price spiral. They are so concerned that they are publicly asking people to turn down pay rises, with the Bank’s Governor asking people to show ‘restraint in pay bargaining’ so that inflation doesn’t ‘get out of control’. The PM has said that ‘when a […] → Read More

With the Online Safety Bill, Britain is going from Nanny State to Granny State

It may have slipped your notice, but you don’t have the right to free speech. British political commentators are regularly surprised to find out that under the 2003 Communications Act, being offensive is in fact an offence. If that doesn’t get you, then there is always section 4a of the 1986 Public Order Act. You […] → Read More

Conservatives trying to play the cancellation game are falling into a trap

Something that Conservatives don’t quite seem to have picked up on is that the rules of cancellation are not symmetrical. Ostracisation relies on the dynamics of an in-group being willing to punish its own. A corollary of this is that you can only really be properly ‘cancelled’ by your own side; it’s generally expected that […] → Read More

After Afghanistan, who will rely on America again?

For all the speculation about the damage Donald Trump’s erratic personality did to America’s credibility, the sight of a Chinook departing the US embassy in Kabul feels like a far harder blow. After 20 years, $2 trillion spent, 800,000 serving soldiers deployed, and 2,352 deaths, America is leaving Afghanistan as it found it: under the control […] → Read More