Author Archives: Alex Smethurst

Opinion: Liberal Democrats should take a stand on state surveillance powers

ServerThe Coalition Government has announced it is rushing through emergency legislation underpinning the state’s right to keep personal data held by internet and phone companies. This is in reaction to the ruling by the European Court of Justice that at an EU directive on privacy retention had over-reached its powers and amounted to an invasion of privacy.

If the European Court of Justice says existing state surveillance powers are unlawful then we should not re-introduce them with no questions asked. Let’s have the debate as to whether the state should have these powers …

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Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: 2016 is the year Bristol should adopt STV

Understanding the cycle of elections for local authorities can be a complicated process for the elector. Last year, a vote at Full Council resolved that Bristol City Council would change its cycle from ‘elections by thirds’ to whole council elections or ‘all ups’, to commence in 2016. This is a unique opportunity for Bristol to prove it’s not afraid for bold change and to introduce the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system for elections to the council.

Turnout in local authority elections in England has always been lower than for Westminster elections. By introducing proportional representation in the form of STV, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Registering young voters increases party loyalty

Ballot paperThe move to Individual Electoral Registration later this year has the capacity to enable our party to re-engage with many young and new voters. Given our polling numbers, this is all the more pertinent, as registering young voters increases party loyalty.

There is considerable evidence that if people vote at the start of their careers as citizens, they are more likely to carry on voting. Rather than canvassing people sporadically, we should be targeting 16,17 and 18 year olds. Just like voters of all ages, young voters are attracted to candidates that reach out to them. Partisan loyalty develops during their first few years of being enfranchised. Reams of academic research in America show a young voters’ first presidential vote and party vote influence their party choice for decades. As Rock the Vote explain, voter registration remains the largest barrier to youth participation, but if they are registered, young people vote! Individual Electoral Registration opens the doors to the younger voters.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: More money in your pocket from April

MoneyAt the last election, Liberal Democrats up and down the country campaigned hard to cut taxes for working people and put money back in your pocket. It was our top priority – taken from the front page of our manifesto – to increase the amount you can earn before paying tax to £10,000. This has made a real difference to taxpayers up and down the country.

Since 2003, middle wages have failed to rise with growth. When we came into government, someone working full time on the minimum wage would lose …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

Opinion: The green centre ground

Since the Coalition was formed we have lost the impetus with the green agenda. Around two fifths of Lib Dem voters from 2010 have switched to Labour or the Green Party. In Bristol, we sadly lost two ward seats to the Greens in this year’s local elections. By ‘greening’ our liberal, democratic and social reforms we are most likely to achieve our desired goal of a stronger economy in a fairer society.

That is why I welcome the Green Liberal Democrats Conference, taking place in Bristol on 15th June. The Conference can prove to environmentalists how we are …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

Opinion: Land is theft

landIn ‘Why Wealth can’t be Taxed’ it was alleged that a mansion tax is illiberal. However, as a liberal, I am concerned for the state of the property market in the UK. The average age of the first time buyer is now 35.

Housing is a policy that has been forgotten, with health and education becoming the areas of priority. However as liberals, we can address the state of housing through taxation, for I would say that ‘land is theft’. There is too much concentration of power in the hands of the few. Land Value Taxation is a key to addressing this.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 34 Comments

Opinion: What’s wrong with the Welfare State?

Last Saturday the Social Liberal Forum met for its 2012 conference. Being in a centre-right Coalition with the Conservatives has not lead to an abandonment of our centre-left principles. Our achievements in Government represent a broader party ethos of our social democratic belief in the Welfare State. However, instead of evolving with the times, the Welfare State stands rigid and unreflective of the world we live in today. For example, our nation is getting older: 10 million people in the UK

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 12th Feb - 10:20pm
    Junior doctors are highly intelligent people who have read the proposals for themselves & are not just listening to the BMA. If they think the...
  • User AvatarVictor Grayson 12th Feb - 9:34pm
    £22billion in foreign investment that is, sorry.
  • User AvatarVictor Grayson 12th Feb - 9:33pm
    @RC@petermartin2001-although figures are very difficult to dig out it would seem that the UK receives an average of £22 billion per month and invisible earnings...
  • User Avatarpetermartin2001 12th Feb - 9:19pm
    @ Victor Grayson, "what proportion of the monthly government borrowing requirement do you think is attributable to the balance of payments deficit ?" OK. Lets...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 12th Feb - 9:02pm
    Ok, enough about housing now. We're supposed to be talking about conference.
  • User Avatarpetermartin2001 12th Feb - 8:58pm
    @RC @Victor Grayson. I'd say we are in some agreement on the difficulty in the attribution of causality. Nevertheless that's not to say there isn't...