Author Archives: George Potter

Why the social security policy paper should be rejected

On Monday at Liberal Democrat conference, party members will have the chance to debate policy motion F31 which endorses a new Liberal Democrat welfare policy paper, Mending the safety net.

However, as one of the members of the working group which wrote the paper, I strongly urge all members at conference to vote against the motion.

My reasons for saying this are simple: although the policy paper is called ‘Mending the Safety Net’, what it proposes is nothing of the sort. In fact, it actively endorses the current welfare system which is failing so badly that over a million people in the UK don’t just live in poverty but are actively destitute.

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest social challenges facing our country – even if you set aside the human suffering it creates, poverty costs the UK £78 billion a year, blighting our national prosperity.

When set against that backdrop, the welfare policy motion is a failure.

In my opinion it lets down some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society by failing to offer real solutions to the problems they face, it spectacularly misses the opportunity to define a real and distinctive alternative approach to welfare for the Liberal Democrats, and, crucially, it cannot be made fit for purpose even if all the amendments to it on the agenda are passed.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Are party consultations with members worth the paper they’re written on? 

At Liberal Democrat autumn conference party members will have the opportunity to debate a Federal Policy Committee policy paper and an accompanying motion laying out an overall vision for the social security system – the first such policy paper on the subject for over a decade. Sadly, however, the contents of the paper and motion are scandalous in their blatant disregard for the views of party members.

As part of the process of writing the policy paper, the working group which wrote it ran a members survey which included a question about which model should be used as the basis for social security.

Posted in Op-eds | 45 Comments

Farron’s strategy to tackle Corbyn is all wrong

 

Recently Tim Farron responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s economic strategy by saying “Unfortunately Corbyn’s anti-business policies will ensure that no company has the budget to pay the wages their employees deserve”.

Now this is absolutely true and it’s very much Tim Farron’s approach to Corbyn and Labour at the moment. But it’s also absolutely the wrong approach to take.

The thing is, the public already thinks Labour aren’t economically competent and the Tories keep on ramming home that message. But since the public think that the Tories are economically competent then any attacks we make on Labour’s economic competence will just drive voters to the Tories.

In a nutshell, attacking Labour on the economy does nothing more than to annoy Labour voters who we want to win over while helping to turn undecided voters to the Tories.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 71 Comments

Trident is a threat to our national security

 

A week from now Lib Dem conference will be debating our position on our Trident nuclear weapon system. Two years ago I wrote and proposed the amendment to our defence policy which called for us to oppose the renewal of Trident.

I still oppose the renewal of Trident and will fully support the Scrapping Trident motion.

But I’m not doing so because I oppose nuclear weapons out of principle or because I think unilaterally abandoning Trident will be a step towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Let’s be clear: a nuclear weapon free world is a dream which is highly unlikely to ever happen, let alone in my lifetime.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 39 Comments

Opinion: Time for a real English party

It’s time for Liberal Democrats to get serious about England. Although we are, in theory, a federal party, we certainly don’t act like it in practice. In Scotland we stand as the Scottish Liberal Democrats. In Wales we stand as the Welsh Liberal Democrats/Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru. But in England we just stand as the Liberal Democrats.

We have Scottish and Welsh conferences to handle Scottish and Welsh policy but no English conference so our “federal” conference is dominated by policy on England only matters. We have federal committees in the party but they have Scottish and Welsh representatives added on separately. We have Welsh and Scottish Lib Dem HQs but the greatest concentration of our staff and resources is at party headquarters in London where there’s no distinction between staff focusing on federal matters and England matters.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 47 Comments

Opinion: Time for constitutional reform..but not the way you think

It’s time for constitutional reform – of the Liberal Democrats. We need to redesign our party structures to make them fit for the challenges we face.

While there has to be a big debate on what needs change and what the best options are, here’s a rundown of options worth considering:

1. Either abolish membership fees or create an associate membership which costs nothing and has some of the privilege of full members. Why should you have to pay to join our movement instead of donating when you wish and are able to?

2. Reduce barriers to participation within the party. This means introducing one member, one vote everywhere in the party and should involve eliminating, or heavily reducing, the period of membership required to be able to vote in internal elections. In the Canadian Liberal’s leadership election the winning campaign signed up over 100,000 new members alone with the incentive of being able to vote for the party leader – why can’t we do something similar?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 59 Comments

Opinion: Combined authorities and English devolution

The big news on devolution this week has been the twin announcements of more devolved powers for Wales and that Greater Manchester will be devolved control over the £6 billion health budget for the region.

It’s interesting to see what lessons can be taken from this. One is that ‘Devomanc’ really does appear to have substance, despite initial scepticism from various people (myself included) and another is that talk of English Votes on English Laws is even more redundant now that we face the prospect of Mancunian MPs voting on matters affecting the rest of England which don’t affect Greater Manchester.

A further, more worrying lesson, is that devolution is becoming ever more piecemeal with wildly varying levels of devolution both across the UK and across England.

But England the lessons are particularly interesting. Those of us living outside of major city regions like Greater Manchester and Merseyside have been wondering how exactly we can get our share of devolution and it now looks like we have an answer.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments
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