Author Archives: Helen Flynn

How to campaign in a “post-truth” world

I am going to tell you a story.  It happens to be true.  But bear with me, there is a point to it.

The “Swinsty cormorant” was usually there, perched on a float around 100 metres out from the dam wall at Swinsty Reservoir in North Yorkshire, whenever I ran round it with my dogs.  I used to be fascinated by the lone bird and would always look out for him to see if he was there.  My imagination ran riot with why he was always there on his own with no mates in sight.  I was captured by the romance of his loneliness, I suppose.

But one day, about 18 months ago, it all changed.  I would often meet a man on the days I ran who I knew slightly, and we would have a chat.  One day I came across him by the location of the Swinsty cormorant.  I asked him if he, like me, was fascinated by this lone creature.  His reply crushed me—albeit in only a small way.  He pointed out something very obvious that I had, oddly, never thought of.  It was not the same bird there all the time—cormorants visited the reservoir in small numbers, so it was fairly evident that the actual bird changed, especially as there was only room for one bird on the float.

After that day, I did see a cormorant on the float occasionally, but did not particularly look out for it nor spend any time thinking about it really.  I suppose that was when I realized that I, in common with many people, was a “sucker” for a good story.  But when faced with the facts—the evidence—which blew the story away, I was not particularly interested.  The only actual point of interest was the fact that cormorants were regular visitors to the reservoir.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Why liberals should embrace the Steady State Economy

One of the saddest things about the lurch to extremism and the right wing of the political spectrum over the past few years—and especially these last few months—has been that attention has been taken away from the significant problems with capitalism and its reliance on continued growth that the 2008 crash had exposed.

The Classical Economists, in particular Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, had already theorised centuries ago that growth could not go on forever and that eventually states would enter the condition of being a “stationary state”.  John Stuart Mill wrote that the “increase of wealth is not boundless….the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 35 Comments

Opinion: It’s the Inequality

Gary Lineker has been coming out with some pithy, relevant comments recently on Twitter, and much like an essential feature of the game he professionally played, the result of the US election reveals a country of two halves.

Like Brexit, this result and the corresponding lurch to the right, stem from inequality. Unfortunately, and quite to the contrary of what these dispossessed people have voted for, the resulting administration now has the propensity to make their situation far worse.

It is one thing to be a demagogue and stand up and say what you think people want you to say. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

Let’s think again about Universal Basic Income

I was disappointed that the working group on welfare at the recent Brighton conference decided not to back a Universal Basic Income (UBI). An amendment (defeated) put forward by members from Calderdale called for negative income tax. But actually, fundamentally, a UBI is both far more essentially liberal and—in any case–the current societal context and demographic trends demand that we should look far more closely at this, especially as we are a progressive party.

The current welfare system, introduced just after the Second World War, has become complex, bureaucratic, top-down and increasingly intrusive—note that all these descriptors are fundamentally illiberal. …

Posted in News | 20 Comments

Sorting Out the Political Mess

I am concerned about many of the issues that people have been discussing on Lib Dem Voice and the media over the past few days. The big issues being:

  • The referendum was actually about issues other than the EU and indeed immigration–in particular: gross inequality in our country; how austerity has created winners and losers when it comes to many cities and regions; and the opportunity this represented for people to punish the political elites.
  • The Leave campaign seem to have pedaled out a lot of untruths—especially the inability to be able to stem immigration in the post-Brexit world and our

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

What is Nicky Morgan doing to school governance?

I’d love to know who is advising the Tories and Nicky Morgan with respect to much of what is contained in the education white paper.

What I sense overall is panic. They are terrified that we will not have the skilled individuals to make us globally competitive. So they are embarking on a series of measures that they think will give more flexibility in the education system and modernize it in terms of structure and accountability, on the one hand, but rigidly defining what children should learn, particularly at primary level, and sticking with archaic, sudden death-style …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

Why we need to develop hard-edged campaigning

 

No one can deny that the Tories ran a stunning campaign to get back into power in May.  It wasn’t a nice campaign.  It wasn’t the kind of campaign that we would ever want to run, based – as it was – on the politics of fear and division.  But, my God, it worked.  We must learn from it.  Not to repeat similar messages, but to replicate the style and method.

What absolutely clinched it was that the messages had a hard edge, were simple, and were delivered multiple times on a variety of platforms.  You would have had to have been living underneath a stone on a far flung Hebridean island not to have picked up the messages that Tory HQ were pumping out.  How much that then influenced the undecided (of which there are increasingly a large number) can now be clearly gauged by the fact that the Tories now reign unhindered for the next five years.  And then they will employ a similar style of campaigning to quite possibly be in charge again.  They need proper competition.

Time for us to wake up.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments
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