Author Archives: David Boyle

Why we need a little civil disobedience and please help me provide it!

The rail crisis is reaching its reluctant and rather tawdry head. Even passengers campaigners are being singled out for flaming criticism by the government’s supporters in the press, as the leaders of the Association of British Commuters were so unfairly over the weekend.

We are in short being forced to take sides in the traditional management versus labour battle – when people like me believe that the slow collapse of Southern Rail is mainly to do with incompetent franchising from the Department of Transport and absentee landlord behaviour from the Treasury and owners Go Ahead (as well, of course, on the usual useless industrial relations).

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Story telling might lead to economic revolution

It is extraordinary how compartmentalised everything is – especially when we are campaigning in local elections.

We, few of us, who know a little about the way public responsibilities are demarcated between different layers of government, have a kind of sense of corrosive superiority as we expect campaigners to demand the right reform from the right level.

But partly this is just a function of sclerotic centralisation. The Treasury has a crushing monopoly on economic policy because, well – it always has.

Partly because of that, and because there is almost no local economic data collected about where money flows (the exception is bank lending to postal district level, forced on the banks by Lib Dem peers in 2012) – Whitehall doesn’t see the economic innovations at local level.

And in particular, they don’t see the emergence of a new generation of local entrepreneurs who are no longer prepared to wait patiently for the Chinese to invest or the government to give them a grant – and are trying to transform their local economies a bite at a time.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

The terrifying consequences of witch-hunts

ScandalNow that, one by one, European countries are shifting the law for allow for same-sex marriage – the spotlight now turns on Italy where mass demonstrations have taken place in support of the idea – it is  worth thinking about why homosexuality was criminalised in the first place.

We have spent so much time celebrating the decision in 1967 to repeal laws which did so, that we have perhaps forgotten to look a little further back to see how they came onto the statute book in the first place (sodomy had been a crime for some centuries before).

The story goes back to the Phoenix Park murders of 1882, when republican terrorists stabbed the Irish Secretary to death – accidentally, as it turned out: he happened to be walking with the intended victim.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Is business no longer Conservative

The apology for a debate about business and politics over the last few weeks is enough to make anyone independent-minded start chewing the carpet in frustration. There was a particularly annoying radio debate between Digby Jones and Polly Toynbee last week. A dialogue of the deaf if ever there was one.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the BBC would continue the traditional assumption that business was always going to be Conservative, but look more closely – talk to business people more broadly – and you find something is shifting.

Posted in News | 11 Comments

Opinion: How time banks play a crucial role in health care

Imagine that health professionals had the time to make everyone feel valued and cared for personally. Imagine there was an infinite resource to provide the kind of informal care that keeps people healthy. Imagine there was enough time.

Well, the peculiar thing – if you set the questions out like that – is that there is enough time, if you have the infrastructure and institutions that can use NHS patients, their time and experience, and that of their family and neighbours, as a resource.

That is becoming a familiar idea and the NHS is embracing the co-production agenda, even if they don’t yet very fully understand what it means. But the practical application of the idea is to set up time banks in hospitals and health centres, and I was involved in launching the UK’s first – at the Rushey Green Group Practice in Catford in 1999.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Opinion: The future isn’t so much local, it is small

people powered prosperityDanny Alexander started all this.  He asked me, back one day in 2012, about how local economies could find levers to regenerate themselves – rather than waiting around hopelessly for outside investment that never came (that isn’t how he put it).

The result was a dialogue between the Treasury and the local economic regeneration activists – local bankers, local energy organisers, local procurement advocates, local currencies – which revealed, it’s fair to say, something of a gulf between them.

As a result, and thanks to some funding from the Friends Provident Foundation, I have been organising a project to translate between the two – so that they at least understand each other.

I hope it will also form a narrative, once cities and places have more power, which can support their own economic efforts.  If you devolve powers from Whitehall, it makes no sense for them to carry on handling your whole economic destiny on your behalf.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Underpinning local enterprise through the banking system

Despite a last minute attempt to scrap criticisms of the big banks, the Lib Dems are now committed to a powerful programme to create a diverse local lending infrastructure in the UK.

And most important of all, thanks to the Rebanking the UK debate yesterday, the Lib Dems are now clear about how this great diversification is going to be achieved.

The big banks are going to pay for and mentor a new infrastructure of local banks, which will be geared up – and with the expertise they need – to lend money to a new UK mittelstand, the UK small and …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 28th Apr - 8:41pm
    That sounds like a good idea Fiona, my husband worked with homeless people for twenty years before retiring and a step by step approach seemed...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 28th Apr - 8:30pm
    Michael, I saw a video of Daleks in London on Facebook today pronouncing strong and stable, strong and stable but they left out the exterminate...
  • User AvatarHywel 28th Apr - 8:13pm
    "There should certainly be an in depth interview with her to find out her real views and intentions" Under party rules, membership requires acceptance by...
  • User AvatarThomas 28th Apr - 8:08pm
    Also, what about imposing some hard limits to discourage property lending in favour of lending to productive investments?
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 28th Apr - 8:06pm
    Hope someone from FCC will be along to answer that...
  • User AvatarThomas 28th Apr - 8:01pm
    But how can we reduce trade deficit? I would argue for adopting mercantilist export-led strategy for a while until trade balance improves, and also with...