Author Archives: Joe Bourke

Irish Liberal Democrats and LDV St Patrick’s Day fringe at York

Theresa May dealt a blow to Ireland in her Brexit white paper when she said she wanted in effect to leave the EU customs union, confirming Brexit poses a huge threat to frictionless cross-border trade on the island of Ireland, the mainstay of the Irish economy.

The Irish Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall said last month that comprehensive customs and border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland are not remotely possible

Northern Ireland polled more europhilic than other regions in the UK before the election. Its Remain vote of 55.7 per cent was the third strongest in the country. Nationalists wanted the UK to remain in the EU, but unionists generally wanted to leave. Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists, Alliance and the Green Party wanted to stay. The Irish government also wanted a remain vote. The DUP, the TUV and the left-wing People before Profit party backed Brexit.

As Sinn Fein and the DUP jostle for position in a new power sharing agreement at Stormont the Brexit divide has come to the fore. If the parties are unable to agree an accommodation, we may yet see a return to direct rule of the province from Westminster.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

UK-Irish post Brexit relations

Malta assumes the presidency of the EU at the start of 2017. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, in setting out his priorities, has said the ‘Irish Border’ Issue must be settled before Brexit talks can begin in earnest, injecting some urgency given that talks are expected  to get underway in April next year.

Helpfully, the House of Lords EU select committee published a report this week titled Brexit: UK-Irish Relations. The report notes the special ties between the UK and Ireland and the friendship that has developed as the Northern Ireland peace process has advanced. Also noting that Ireland’s common membership of the EU has been one of the foundations of this close relationship.

The report draws attention to: the serious economic implications of Brexit for Ireland, North and South; the consequences for the Irish land border of potential restrictions to the free movement of goods and people; the
implications for the Common Travel Area (CTA) and for the special status of UK and Irish citizens in each other’s countries, including the right of people born in Northern Ireland to Irish (and therefore EU) citizenship; the potential impact on political stability in Northern Ireland; and the challenge to the
institutional structure for North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland, and East-West relations between the UK and Ireland, established under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

Donald Trump’s very liberal plan to pay off the US national debt

 

In April this year, Donald Trump was proposing to pay off the US national debt of $19 trillion over two presidential terms.

He laid out his initial proposals in an interview with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, suggesting that he could pay off the national debt by renegotiating trade deals.

As the Washington Post explained, eliminating a trade deficit does not mean the money ends up in government coffers. The post goes on to explain that before the debt can be reduced the current budget deficit needs to be tackled. So the task is not $19 trillion, but nearly $26 trillion over eight years.

By May, Trump was backtracking on the idea of paying off the debt over 8 years and was promulgating a new plan.  The New York Times reported that this new plan was based on persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment. The Times goes on to recall the consequences of a potential default scare back in 2011, when federal borrowing costs climbed as congressional Republicans refused for a time to increase the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit, raising doubts about the government’s ability to repay its debts. The Bipartisan Policy Center calculated that the resulting higher rates cost taxpayers about $19 billion.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Sharing the Rents: The Economic relationship Between Humanity and Nature

alter-logo-300Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform (ALTER) seeks to build on support for Land Value Taxation amongst Liberal Democrats and to promote and campaign for this policy as part of a more sustainable and just resource based economic system.

The ALTER fringe meeting at Brighton this year was chaired by our MEP, Catherine Bearder. Jock Coats, a former Oxford city councillor, presented a paper aimed at infusing the Liberal Democrat mission statement as set out in the “preamble to the constitution” with explicitly “geoist” principles.  The paper argues that only publicly collecting the “economic rent” from land and natural resources enables a genuine market and democracy to work together to optimally distribute economic welfare and save the planet.

The premise of the paper is that neither markets nor democracy can function properly whilst a monopolistic class, rentiers, captures so much of economic productivity. It leads to a two caste society, one of which reaps the benefits of public need and public programs through land values, while the other pays for it. “Tenants pay twice so landowners don’t have to”.

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Opinion: Tackling Housing Benefit reform

Matilda HouseThe Liberal Democrat policy paper on housing notes that the primary driver of growing housing benefit and Local Housing Allowance bills has been the shortage of housing, leading to higher rents, and increasing number of people unable either to buy or to access social housing. The paper focused on the most pressing issues:

  • Building more homes – providing environmentally sustainable homes where people need them, creating jobs and kick starting the economy.
  • Giving tenants more power and security – making social landlords more accountable and improving standards and security in the rapidly

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 39 Comments

Opinion: Lib-Lab Pact

infographic2014The Lib Dem campaigning message is encapsulated in Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, with Conservative messaging focusing on ‘the long term plan for economic recovery’, and Labour’s focusing on the decline in living standards of the poor and the squeezed middle.

Nick Clegg’s response that, were Labour in the future to ask Libdems to form a coalition with them the first demand would be ‘Don’t break the bank’,  seeks to emphasise Lib Dem economic competence.

It should come as no surprise then that the voting public should surmise that coalition economic policy is just what we say it is – a joint Conservative and Liberal Democrat long-term plan for economic recovery with “not a cigarette paper between us”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 50 Comments

Opinion: Back to basic principles on welfare reform

"Demand the Beveridge Plan", 1944The basic principles of the Beveridge Report were:

  1. The right of every citizen to a minimum level of subsistence;
  2. The need to preserve incentive, opportunity and responsibility.

The post-war National Insurance system was based on the assumption that there would be full employment, and that wages for men would be sufficient to maintain a wife at home raising children.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 56 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 26th Apr - 1:10am
    Surely the big news is Tim's new haircut shown in the picture?
  • User AvatarHywel 26th Apr - 12:00am
    I like the comment about it not being fair. Kind of tempted to say (a la Peep Show) 'Welcome to big school'. Political campaigns aren't...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 25th Apr - 11:55pm
    To me, Christian values and Liberal Democrat values are very much in sync, since both emphasise the rights of individuals to flourish, and that we...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 25th Apr - 11:34pm
    @David Becket "can we have the view of the Vicar’s Daughter" Why is the job of Theresa May's father relevant? Tim Farron's and Theresa May's...
  • User AvatarDJ 25th Apr - 11:25pm
    The Last Leg, although not the most serious of shows, had one comment on Tim's voting record and several jokes or other about sin. What...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 25th Apr - 11:12pm
    This is very good, thanks Paul. Have just read about Christine, a fine councillor by the articles I read, and elected unopposed due to her...