Author Archives: Iain Donaldson

Iain Donaldson is a Vice President of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, Acting Chair of the Manchester Liberal Democrats, a member of the North West Liberal Democrats Regional Executive and a member of the English Council of the Liberal Democrats.

It is time to press for full gender and sexual equality in our law and administration

The case of Tara Hudson, a transgender woman who has been sent to one of the most violent all male prisons in the country for an admitted assault, highlights once again the need for British law and administration relating to gender dysphoria to be overhauled.

As a cysgender gay man I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to live with a condition where you experience discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between your biological sex and gender identity, but I don’t have to live with medical condition in order to understand the impact …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Conference: what worked, and some suggestions for improvement for the future

I believe in giving praise where praise is due, and so I would like to congratulate all the party staff, companies, businesses, volunteers and particularly the members of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) on their delivering the most enjoyable, welcoming and member friendly conference I have attended in my 27 years in this party.

I particularly liked and would like to see at all future conferences:

From the moment you arrived people explained what was happening and when, FCC and Federal Executive members were available front of house to hear what members wanted to tell them;

In the conference hall every technicality of the debate was clearly explained as it happened so nobody felt out of their depth;

In the fringe meetings every acronym and every bit of jargon was explained, it isn’t just the new members who are helped by that everyone benefits.

On the whole this conference gave us a lot to build on, and here are some of my suggestions for the future:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: Issues for the promised party governance review

Before the election we were promised a review of how the party operates, and if the Federal Executive is doing its job properly then we should be hearing at some point in June how each of us can contribute to that process.  Here is a little bit of my input as to where we can go from here.

Firstly we need to commission the development of a registered voting system for the Conference app that can be used for all internal elections.  The BBC and ITV have managed to develop such apps for voting in their competitions and shows and registering the vote to an individual shouldn’t be that difficult.

Secondly, all committees should be elected on the basis of one member one vote.  The idea that vested interests such as parliamentarians, councillors or specified organisations can have places reserved at the top tables in a party that prides itself on every member having the same say is nonsense.  Our elected representatives should be answerable to the party that secured their election, not stacking its committees to make it answerable to them.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Opinion: Delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society

Liberal democrats

The Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto contains a lot of good policy, but what it is lacking is the narrative to pull all those disparate threads into a single powerful statement of who we are and what we stand for.  In this short article I will try to provide just that.
In 2010 we knew that our country was headed for a major recession and that the first priority of the Liberal Democrats in government must be to protect the poorest whilst setting in place the infrastructure necessary in order to re-grow our economy, close the deficit and start to repay the national debt.  That is why we have invested so heavily in cutting taxes for the poorest, improving education for all our children and ensuring that we research new technologies to keep us at the forefront of innovation so that as the world comes out of recession this country is able to meet the new demands.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 43 Comments

Opinion: Decision making in the Liberal Democrats

libby on the wall3

The Liberal Democrats could be on the verge of a major change in the way in which we conduct our internal business.  We have already decided to move to OMOV for Federal Conference, and that will result automatically in all members of the party being eligible to stand for the elected positions on our Federal Executive.  We have also already decided to move to no less than 30% female representation for the elected seats on the FE, which will automatically weight the FE to at least 15% women (a token gesture by people who don’t understand the issue).

I have proposed, as a part of my agenda for election to the FE that we should move to having all seats on the FE directly elected and on a 50/50 +1 split of male to female members.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Opinion: How about some real fairness in our tax system?

On 27th August as a party of the new Liberal Democrat media strategy of Manifesto by a Thousand Statements, in the name of the party it was announced that The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to introduce a trio of wealth taxes which will help to cut the deficit whilst ensuring fairness in our tax system.  I fully understand the need to wipe out the deficit, and the need for the wealthiest to bear the greatest burden in achieving that, but let us not confuse that with making our tax system fairer.

National Insurance is a tax on income.  It is paid at a rate of 11% on earnings between £7,956 per year and £ 41,865 per year above which it drops to just 2%.  Surely integrating NI into Income Tax, thereby raising the basic threshold to the proposed £12,500 and reducing the rate of payment substantially (we are always told that the richest 10% pay the highest burden in tax) would be a way of  ensuring fairness in our tax system.  This is a measure that would have a direct impact on the daily lives of the majority of our citizens, rather than just playing to the politics of envy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments

Opinion: The manifesto and our target demographic

ξυπνήστε (alarm clock) by BatholithI have just registered for conference, and that got me thinking about our 2015 Manifesto.

When he first became leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg defined our target audience as being ‘alarm clock Britain’, a demographic that was derided at the time as being undefined and totally incomprehensible.

Had he defined our target demographic as being ‘people aspiring to improve their situation who are in work on low to middle incomes’ would he have meant the same target group, and what have the Liberal Democrats in Government achieved that is of benefit to that demographic?

The first thing that the Liberal Democrats in Government have achieved for that target group is the ring-fencing of the education budget, the introduction of the pupil premium, and the extension of pre-school education to 3 year olds.

photo by: dullhunk
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

Opinion: Suggestions for the 2015 manifesto – how we can do more for low paid working people than Labour

This article was orgininally, mistakenly attributed to Obhi Chatterjee.

libdemmanifesto 2010 wordleI have just registered for conference, and that got me thinking about our 2015 Manifesto.

When he first became leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg defined our target audience as being ‘alarm clock Britain’, a demographic that was derided at the time as being undefined and totally incomprehensible.

Had he defined our target demographic as being ‘people aspiring to improve their situation who are in work on low to middle incomes’ would he have meant the same target group, and what have …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 98 Comments

Opinion: Licensing the private sector housing market would be more effective than 3 year tenancies and a rent fix

Matilda HouseMuch has been said about Ed Miliband’s latest proposal to grant 3 year tenancies and cap rent rises over the three years but it’s not that bad an idea as a part of a package of measures to tackle the housing crisis. The key problem is that Mr Miliband’s solution would have to be regulated and yet Labour has consistently blocked the introduction of regulation for the private sector housing market.

We need to ensure that all rented accommodation (private, social, co-operative, lodging or council) meets standards of service …

photo by: celesteh
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: The first of the big four commitments for the front page of the manifesto

Lib Dem manifesto WordleTime and again we have been asked what four key commitments we should make in our manifesto for the next General Election.

I am of the opinion that, whilst until recently the idea that Liberal Democrats could go into a General Election campaign with the simplification of the tax regime as a cornerstone of our manifesto would have been laughable, as we near the end of our first term of Government in over 70 years that should be where we find ourselves and what’s more it should be a key commitment in our manifesto.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Opinion: Reflections on the new Party website

logo_lgThe first thing you notice on the new party website is the new logo. There is a history in the Liberal Democrats of changing the logo to reflect a change in the Leader and as this new logo appears to be being rolled out over several months one wonders if this is a pre-emptive strike by the grey suits in Lib Dem HQ? As a part of that change we appear to have again opted for an expensive bespoke typeface that will be beyond the budget of most local parties and will create the impression of disconnect between the team on the ground and the team at LDHQ. There is nothing wrong with Calibri or Cambria, guys.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

Opinion: Help me deliver a workers’ bonus

Nick Clegg has this week called for a further increase in the basic tax threshold of £500, which would cost around £1bn and put an extra £10 a week into peoples pockets. It is a good call but it’s not the best call.

National Insurance is in theory is a tax that is hypothecated to pay for our pensions, our unemployment benefits and other aspects of social security, but in reality all of our social benefits are subsidised out of general taxation. What it does however do economically is constrain the poorest paid in our society in …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats have a unique position on co-operatives. We should use it.

At party conference I asked Nick Clegg why the word ‘co-operative’ appeared only once in our economy paper and not at all in the resolution presenting that paper to conference. He advised me to write my views on a postcard and send them to him, and this is that postcard.

The third clause of the preamble to the constitution sets out the underlying principles of economic liberalism clearly and concisely:

We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Letter to Nick Clegg – Secret courts and bedroom tax

Dear Nick,
Following the vote in Parliament last night the Prime Minister demonstrated how to graciously step back from a position and accept the will of our democratically elected representatives that Britain should not engage in the folly of military intervention in Syria.To step back, accept that you have lost the vote, and so quickly return to the task that parliament has set is not in my view a sign of weakness, it is a clear sign of strength and dignity that will serve the Prime Minister well.

At our Spring conference this year you faced two major votes where you disagreed

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: An open letter to Nick Clegg on Syria

Dear Nick,

Today Parliament is considering international action in Syria and you will take the most important decision of your leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

It would seem to me that there are four clear questions that must be answered before any military intervention is launched in Syria.

Is there compelling evidence of Assad’s guilt?

If compelling evidence of Assad’s guilt emerges, has an international arrest warrant been issued under international war-crimes law?

Have all non-military avenues for extradition to The Hague failed?

Has the Security Council sanctioned the necessary action to execute the arrest warrant?

Right now there appears to be no compelling evidence of Assad’s …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: Secret courts and the detention of David Miranda

For a number of years where it was felt that taking a case into court may result in information being divulged that could harm national security successive British Governments have settled out of court.
This Coalition Government decided that this approach was too costly and so resolved to introduce closed material procedures, or secret courts, for civil cases brought by citizens against the intelligence services.
In these secret courts the citizen will lay their case before a Judge, who will then sit in private with the intelligence services present but the Citizen not, and consider evidence that may never have been seen

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: Tackling Labour’s Pensions Deficit

The Coalition Government is currently coming under fire for cutting public sector pensions, but the truth is that pensions funding was cut 13 years ago by Gordon Brown when he launched his raid on pension schemes.

Until the last Labour Government came into office the accrual of interest on pension funds was not taxed — pension schemes could build up funds more quickly than other modes of investment in order to pay out benefits when members retired. Labour changed that and taxed interest on pension investments as it accrued; pension schemes which had aimed at paying out a …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 25th Nov - 9:25am
    Eddie Sammon 25th Nov '15 - 1:42am..................I think the whole idea that we need to wait for consensus before we act is wrong anyway. It’s...
  • User AvatarPhyllis 25th Nov - 9:08am
    Andrew Hickey "Party policy is decided by the party, democratically, not by the leader." I've heard this repeated so many times and I actually believed...
  • User AvatarAnne 25th Nov - 8:52am
    Why get rid of Assad when we will not touch Saudi,Bahrain and Qatar? I do not understand the reasoning and I expect many others do...
  • User Avatarexpats 25th Nov - 8:49am
    Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '15 - 11:38am.........If we don’t give Cameron permission to bomb Daesh in Syria then our politicians and diplomats should be more...
  • User AvatarBrianD 25th Nov - 8:38am
    Sad to hear Tony Greaves reverting to tribalism. Perhaps he hasn't read Marquand's "Mammon's Kingdom"
  • User AvatarJohn Bennett 25th Nov - 8:12am
    I can only assume that those advocating the expansion of Heathrow have never looked at the nearby section of the M25.