Author Archives: David Thorpe

With his Trident stance Corbyn shows himself to be no fan of ‘new politics’

Few words stir the heart of the politically interested than ‘a new politics’, and quite right too, for who on earth wants the status quo?

But the utterer of that rather normative phrase is immediately pitched a political challenge, to keep on board those who are the bedrock of their support, while also delivering something challenging enough to be new.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man with far less personal ambition than he has integrity and honour, and that may be ‘new’ for a politician in the UK right now, but it is not enough to qualify as ‘new politics’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

The economic case is limited, but liberals should support Sunday trading anyway

 

As the years of my youth sweep by me, increasingly I am drawn towards the comfort blanket of nostalgia, but when it comes to public policy making, such vanities must be cast aside and answers framed by the chill of the contemporary, and the pragmatic must instead rule the roost.

It is this increase reluctance to fight the dying of the light and instead embrace maturity that has caused me to pause, and embrace the idea of Sunday trading.

For personal and professional reasons I tend to view all policy decisions though the prism of their economic efficacy , rather than the madrigal of sentimentality that sometimes frames Liberal Democrat policy making.

But despite there being negligible economic advantage to the UK from a relaxation of the Sunday trading laws, I believe the Liberal approach is to favour a change in the law.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 61 Comments

The economic consequences of tuition fees 

 

Volumes have been written on this site and elsewhere about the political, moral and social impacts of the coalition government increasing tuition fees in the last parliament.

I do not propose to rekindle that debate, but rather to examine the emerging, and potentially very long-term economic consequences of tuition fees.

Whilst the UK economic recovery started to gain a genuine depth, public policy makers and private sector market participants alike commented on both the narrowness of the recovery (the rate of growth being pedestrian for an economy exiting recession), the lack of wage growth, the subdued level of capital investment and lack of productivity growth.

Some of those metrics, notably wages, have shown improvement more recently, whilst demographic changes and the impact of quantitative easing on asset prices carry much of the blame for some of the other structural ills that have haunted this economic recovery.

But it is the contention of this article that the tuition fee rise has had a direct impact on the progress of the UK economy in recent years and will continue to do so in two distinct ways.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 86 Comments

Opinion: The twin intellectual conceits that damned the Liberal Democrats’ election hopes in 2015

 

History has the delightful habit of rendering as fools those who propagate the consensus view of a contemporary event, not because the consensus is ever totally wrong, but because it is comfortable and provides comfortable answers to snuggle up to, rather than looking deeper into the harsh eyes of reality and the bigger truths that are revealed.

And so it is with the Liberal Democrat post election postmortem. The consensus view huddles around the notion that it was only tuition fees and anger about the coalition that lost it, but we knew about those from a long way out and still felt we would get more than twenty seats. Two slivers of reality that the Lib Dems could not bring themselves to acknowledge drove our total of seats down further.

The first of these conceits, and the one that is both the least contentious and the most uncomfortable, is that we were too blasé in believing that our traditional campaign tactic of talking up the local and ignoring the national would work. It has of course been effective in the past, but it was hugely conceited to assume that rival parties would not be working on ways to crack that particular code. Of course the coalition made it easier for it to happen, but we signalled what we were to do, with rhetoric in the national media about our ’57 by-elections strategy’, signposting the direction of our campaign to all.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 37 Comments

Opinion: What the Liberal Democrats can learn about democracy from the people of Ireland

I cannot be alone amongst Liberal Democrats, after the general election result we have just been through, in questioning the collected wisdom of the UK electorate.

Fortunately, as an Irishman, my faith in the collective wisdom of the people has been dramatically restored by the result of the equal marriage referendum in Ireland, as my people lustily endorsed equality, and cast off the comfort of bigotry to which it is easy to resort in times of economic strife.

But, just as Ireland becoming the first country on earth to enshrine this type of equality into the law by popular vote will, I hope, act as a beacon for other states around Europe and the world to follow a similar path, I hope that the Liberal Democrats also manage to learn the lessons from Ireland’s result.

Of course, the Liberal Democrats have much of which to be proud in these matters, being the driving force behind the introduction of marriage equality in the UK.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 27 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrat alternative budget is no answer to Osborne’s opaque way with the numbers 

 

Several years ago there emerged into public discourse one of those phrases that becomes ubiquitous solely on the basis of its banality – ‘joined up thinking’  – and which could be deployed to allow people with more of an agenda than a plan to escape the scrutiny of the serious observer.

This article’s purpose is not to explore the decision making process behind the alternative budget presentation, except to ponder that those Lib Dems who wanted the coalition to have the impact of us being taken seriously as a potential party of government can hardly be satisfied at how we have been ridiculed in the wake of that particular initiative.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 16 Comments

Opinion: There is a reason banks aren’t lending enough to small businesses – the regulator is to blame

Lloyds Bank, Leighton Buzzard - Some rights reserved by dlanor smadaSince the banks were ‘bailed out’ with taxpayers money, a regular refrain from across the political divide has been that the banks are doing decisive harm to the country by refusing to lend to small businesses.

If this refrain were accurate, banks would be denying capital to the businesses that create the jobs to engender a sustainable recovery, instead choosing to deploy the capital in complicated financial instruments that create little value, or pumping up housing markets, or in paying enormous bonuses to bank employees.

This latter is an argument that Vince Cable in particular was vocal in espousing, and as soon as the real state of the bonus culture, now much more shares based than cash based, becomes apparent, he will doubtless claim the credit for that.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNick Baird 31st Aug - 8:49am
    @Eddie - "Europe thinks it can get our businesses but I’m afraid we’ll just have to do something similar to Ireland and offer tax breaks...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 31st Aug - 8:44am
    Stuart Irving, I do also very much doubt whether the demographic prediction is actually accurate. It is true that the average age of people who...
  • User AvatarRobert Eggleston 31st Aug - 8:31am
    Is there not in reality 3 Labour parties now? 1. What is described as the "hard left" - very much committed to a socialist agenda...
  • User AvatarBarry Snelson 31st Aug - 8:28am
    David Evans, You make my point. You (and many other members I am sure) have the experience and talents to produce serious and thought through...
  • User Avatarpetermartin2001 31st Aug - 8:19am
    48% of the voting population is crying out for a strong pro-EU voice Are they? Some of the 48% are ardent Europhiles but I'd suggest...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 31st Aug - 8:08am
    Stuart Irving, I think you rather missed the point of my previous comment about the insensitivity of talking about the Leave vote "disappearing" by 2020...