Author Archives: George Kendall

Social justice in a time of deficits

Liberal Democrats, and social democrats in the Labour party, share two key priorities. We want to improve social justice, and, to fund that work, we need to strengthen the economy.

We’ve often argued about the best way to do this, both within our parties and between them. But the decisions of the 2010-2015 parliament are behind us, and we need to look forward.

Unfortunately, deficits aren’t in the past. Since 2010, the deficit, when adjusted for the economic cycle, has fallen by about 40%. But it’s still around £65 billion a year. And the existing deficit is only one of our challenges.

Each year, the age profile of the UK gets older. As it does, the pressure on the NHS and other services increases, and the pressure on the government budget grows.

This will probably be made worse by Brexit.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

The Iraq War must no longer poison our relations with Labour

What would we remember of the Labour government, if Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack fifteen years ago had never happened? If Labour had listened to the advice of Robin Cook and John Denham, and not engaged in the catastrophe of the Iraq war?

Many of us will remember Robin Cook’s electrifying resignation speech. If only he were alive today. However, he was not the only Labour minister to step down from government office because of the Iraq war. In his prescient resignation speech, on the 18th March, 2003, John Denham said:

If we act in the wrong way, we will create more of the problems that we aim to tackle. For every cause of insecurity with which we try to deal, we shall create a new one.

This summer, I was an observer at the Fabian and Progress summer conferences. I didn’t hear anyone try to defend the Iraq war, and a number agreed it had been a terrible mistake. In fact, if you substituted the word Labour for Liberal Democrat, almost everything that was said could have been said at a Liberal Democrat conference, and probably will be in this coming week.

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

WANTED! Prime Minister for poisoned chalice of post Brexit Britain

I have an article in the New Statesman, asking why anyone would want to be Prime Minister if we vote to Leave. I’d be interested in what you think on this issue, so please do comment below.

If we vote for Brexit, and a Leave campaigner becomes Prime Minister, their every word of reassurance will be repeated back to them a thousand-fold.

As the country lurched into recession, economists would point out that 90% of them had predicted this. Voters would ask the new Prime Minister, why did you say Project Fear was a lie?

If David Cameron remained Prime Minister, and tried to mitigate the damage would be denounced as a betrayal. If he tried to stay in the single market, they’d scream, “We voted to end freedom of movement.” If he delayed invoking Article 50 they’d hound him till he did. And every set-back would be blamed on his “weak and pathetic” negotiating skills.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 14 Comments

The left should follow John McDonnell and stop being anti-austerity

When we use the word ‘austerity’, what do people hear?

Do they hear a reasoned argument for why Tory cuts are ideological and unnecessary? That cutting slower will prevent the economy stalling, will allow a faster recovery, and will reduce the deficit faster.

I fear not.

More likely, they hear someone who wants to get us into a never-ending spiral of debt.

Have you heard the quote: “If you’re putting the rent on the credit card month after month, things need to change”.

Posted in News | Tagged | 83 Comments

World poverty is falling. Bernie Sanders would reverse that

I love it when Bernie Sanders calls for the USA to be more like social democratic Europe. Unfortunately, that’s not all he is campaigning for.

On his campaign web page, he says:

If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.

That statement is very dangerous.

Over the last fifty years, there has been a dramatic fall in world poverty. Not just in China, but across the developing world. This has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions. Have a look at the following chart from https://ourworldindata.org. There is still far too much absolute poverty, but the downward trend is extremely good news.

World-Poverty-Since-1820-full

Click on the graph to see the full size version.

This trend is under threat from protectionism.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 55 Comments

We already have the Social Liberal Forum, so why do we need a Social Democrat group?

The Social Democrat Group has been formed to work with social democrats outside the party, to build links with them, and encourage some to join the Liberal Democrats.

As I handed out leaflets to promote our fringe meeting in York (see here for a recording) , I was asked why we needed another group when we already had the Social Liberal Forum (SLF). A year ago, I’d have agreed a new group wasn’t needed but the situation has changed.

When the party merged in 1988, there was a lot of controversy about the party’s name. It was vital the party move on from that debate, so many former members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) agreed that the short name become the Liberal Democrats. I feared this might mean we would eventually be called Liberals, and the SDP heritage forgotten, but I believed it was necessary.

Sure enough, increasingly, we have been called Liberals. I haven’t liked it, but when there were so many other serious issues to grapple with, it didn’t seem a fight worth having.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 89 Comments

What do you think will happen to the Centre-Left?

At conference, this Saturday, Vince Cable and Roger Liddle will respond to the question, “where now for the centre-left?” It is a good question.

Around the September conference of last year, Vince Cable wrote “progressive centre-left politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to ‘come together’ to stop the Conservatives monopolising power in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory.”

That sounds to me like a repeat of the 1980s, with either an Alliance, or a new merged party.

Shortly after, Tim Farron pointed to a possible future where disaffected Labour MPs would switch directly to our party.

He made an open pitch to Labour’s members and elected politicians to jump ship to the Liberal Democrats, and he also invited disaffected Tories. In his leader’s speech, he said “if you are in your heart a liberal or a social democrat, you have a home in the Liberal Democrats.”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatartheakes 30th Mar - 9:23am
    The past is past, we have to learn from the horrible mistakes we made, within which I include myself. Forget coalitions, let a minority government...
  • User Avatarjohn 30th Mar - 9:00am
    Well said Bill. We need a post-liberal liberalism. newliberalsite.wordpress.com
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 30th Mar - 8:39am
    Thank you for a most interesting and important piece. "Tell me how people are to be measured and I can tell you how they will...
  • User Avatarmatt 30th Mar - 8:29am
    @Katharine Pindar Thank you for those kind and thoughtful words, however, I am not sure that anything I have said or done had anything to...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 30th Mar - 7:46am
    How do you effectively hold someone to account? Do you create a straw man (Hard Brexit) and indulge in some pretty juvenile 'ya-boing'? Isn't this...
  • User AvatarAndrew Tampion 30th Mar - 6:26am
    Red Liberal How are Labour MPs to depose Mr Corbyn when the members elect the Labour Leader and the members have twice elected him?