Author Archives: James Kempton

Opinion: Champions for London’s Children

The Liberal Democrat education policy, written before the General Election, detailed a strong strategic role for councils, including commissioning new schools and holding all schools to account whatever their status.

The question now is whether this is more than just a change in the mood music, and whether the Coalition is genuinely up for endorsing local authorities who seek to hold academies to account as part of a strong ‘champion for children’ role.  And moreover, whether they will give councils the teeth they need to do it properly.

Who better to rise to this challenge and make the case persuasively to government …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Liberal Democrats Police Policy Review – have your say

What is the role of the police in society? Does it go beyond simply cutting crime and acting as law-keepers to include working with local communities in ways that are sometimes characterised as acting more as “social workers” or “youth workers”?

How should forces work together following the introduction of the new Police and Crime Commissioners? How do we break down barriers between forces to encourage the sharing of best practice and increased cooperation? What needs to happen to ensure that the new Police and Crime Panels (PCPs) act as a check on the power of the Commissioner and are effective …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: Conference perspective – media, message and motivation

Looking at the media coverage of the last 24 hours at Conference, it’s all been about tax, boardroom pay and jobs – tackling Labour’s economic legacy. 

But yesterday in the Main Hall, and today in many of the fringes, delegates have also been debating another theme – social mobility, or as Sarah Teather, our Education Minister, powerfully put it – the challenge of breaking the link between the circumstances of a child’s birth and his or her fate. The fact that in this country the richest 16 year-olds are three times as likely

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Opinion: “The Importance of Teaching” White Paper – putting Lib Dem policy into action?

After a year’s work in the run up to the General Election co-writing the Liberal Democrats’ Equity and Excellence education policy paper with other members of the 5-19 Education Policy Working Group, I opened the Coalition Government’s first education White Paper with understandable trepidation.

Nothing can be more important than giving every child a fair start in life, but the education system inherited from Labour offered some young people pretty much the best education system anywhere in the world, while leaving others ill-equipped, under-funded, and lacking the skills needed to get on in life.

The White Paper launched by the government today, called The Importance of Teaching takes as its starting point the unflattering international comparisons of the performance and skills of our pupils. Its critique of where and why the school system is underperforming is one that will be very familiar to most Liberal Democrats. It is a vision for a system based on excellence, underpinned by freedom and fairness: an education system which challenges low aspiration and achievement and where school-level innovation and diversity are seen as strengths to be welcomed.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 29 Comments

Opinion: How Islington’s Liberal Democrat Council is responding to the recession

Liberal Democrat councils in London and across the country have been working on ways to help their residents and local businesses through the recession. Vince Cable is leading the debate nationally, and Liberal Democrats in local government are supplying answers to the real problems on the ground.

In Islington, the Liberal Democrats inherited a basket case council from the loony-left. Labour-run Islington was the proverbial case of bad local government, with enormous levels of debt and the highest council tax in the capital. Labour Islington was a tabloid favourite with scandals, sky-high spending, and crazy policies. …

Posted in Local government, London and Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments
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