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.

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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

Opinion: The myth of the referendum convention

All three major parties committed to Lords Reform in their 2010 General Election manifestos, however Labour promised an elected Second Chamber via a referendum. This explains why Labour MPs dragged their heels during the Second Reading of the Lords Reform Bill, though a cynic may suggest that Labour did so not as its job as Opposition but because of a more insidious agenda to break up the Coalition. Nevertheless, Labour profess that their opposition stems from a belief that ‘constitutional convention’ requires that the Bill must include a …

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Opinion: Lords reform – the lies & lessons from the AV referendum

I invite you to join me in a thought experiment. Let’s imagine Lords Reform has been passed as an Act. But let’s also imagine the Act includes a commitment to a referendum…

A Lords Reform referendum will be perceived as a Liberal Democrat ‘fix’, much like the AV referendum. This perceived fix, in the eyes of the electorate, is personified, regrettably, in Nick Clegg. According to UK Polling Report, Clegg’s

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments

Opinion: Internships – a foot in the door, with a new glass ceiling

Nick Clegg has admitted that his previous pledge to pay interns working for the Party will be broken. And yet, one of the defining ambitions of the Liberal Democrats, found in the Foreword to The Coalition Agreement, is to increase social mobility. Having experience from six unpaid internships, social mobility is one area that I highlight for supporting the Party. Yet it’s in danger of becoming part of Newspeak: for without money to back up the rhetoric, our Party is in danger of yet again offering an empty promise.

Social mobility and paid internships are connected. But I’m concerned …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 25 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAmalric 28th Nov - 3:09am
    @ Richard Dean Thank you for pointing out my error - 260,000 is for 12 months not 6 (I seem to be making quite a...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 28th Nov - 2:24am
    Malc Just about as many people as had heard of James Graham and Mark Thompson when they left the party and we posted about both...
  • User AvatarMike Drew 28th Nov - 12:59am
    Mr Wallace is that the only reason you decide to vote for a party? If it is so important to you I think you would...
  • User AvatarRoss 28th Nov - 12:36am
    RESPONSE TO CHRIS B - PART 2 OF 2 Okay guys, the size and frequency of my posts is a bit large, so I will...
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 28th Nov - 12:15am
    @Stuart: first of all, this guy is not a Lib Dem. Second, as the anti-immigration crowd so often like to say, just because we disagree...
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 28th Nov - 12:13am
    The problem with the immigration debate is simple: "the UK has problems; the UK has immigration; the UK must, therefore, have problems due to immigration."...