Author Archives: Prateek Buch

Opinion: On child poverty targets, on which I agree with David Laws

“A fair, free and open society, in which… no one shall be enslaved by poverty.”

The fundamental basis of our party’s constitution – its very soul – is the elimination of poverty. We may disagree amongst us on how best to achieve this ambitious goal, but there’s little dissent on having it as a goal, particularly when it comes to the blight of children growing up in poverty.

As Caron made clear, we find ourselves in government with a party that doesn’t share many of our values – rarely is this crystallised as starkly as this week’s battle over child poverty …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Tools to make the recovery stronger, fairer

The Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to Nick Clegg’s economy motion – supported by an unprecedented number of voting representatives – seek to ensure that the party retains distinctive, independent economic narrative up to and beyond the next election. The narrative behind Nick’s motion – which, to be clear, has a great deal that Liberal Democrats can be proud of – is clear enough. Here is the rationale behind our amendments.

On housing, the motion highlights government guarantee schemes that are yet to scratch the surface of the housing shortage, and recognises that “house building remains well below historical averages.” The …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Opinion: Three blind men and the UK economy

In Indian folklore there’s a tale that goes a little something as follows:

Three blind men are confronted with an obstacle in their path. Stretching out a hand, each grabs a part and describes what’s in front of them. “My word,” says the first man, “we’re faced with some trees – so strong and thick.” Quoth the second man, “You are mistaken, for we face a snake – thin and wriggly.” Disagreeing with them both, the third man says, “You fools! It’s a wall we must scale – the size of a house.” Passing by, a sighted man takes

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Let’s rid our political economy of inequalities of power

LIBOR-fixing, ineffective banks, corrupt Parliamentarians and the Murdoch press may not appear to have much in common with the fact that median earnings have become decoupled from growth in economic productivity – signifying rewards accumulating to a few at the very top. To my eyes, however, they are all symptoms of the same phenomenon: that the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few, hidden from adequate scrutiny and the power to affect change, impinges on our freedom to live lives free from poverty, ignorance and conformity.

To any liberal with a …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: We must resist illiberal responses to the Woolwich murder

web snoopers charterThe Social Liberal Forum is urging Nick Clegg to continue resisting the pressure from Conservative and Labour Parliamentarians for a “Snooper’s Charter” as a result of the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

At our recent Annual General Meeting, the SLF passed a motion urging the Liberal Democrat leadership to “resist all intimidation and blandishments by the Conservatives and others to support such legislation and to retain our outright and… to campaign vigorously against all threats to restrict our long-held liberties and rights from unauthorised State surveillance.”

Condemning the murder in …

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

Opinion: One last chance to achieve far-reaching libel reform

The Defamation Bill is nearly law. Several key reforms needed to protect free debate are already included in the Bill, thanks to the tireless work of the Libel Reform Campaign (declaration: I have acted as an adviser to the campaign), the heroic defence of free speech by individuals in the face of financial ruin, and Parliamentarians from both Houses, with Lib Dems leading the charge.

At the very last, however, a Tory attempt to scupper one of the most important provisions that was included in the bill needs to be defeated if the ensuing Act is to achieve …

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: George Osborne doesn’t get it… again

This should have been a budget for growth, helping the UK economy to recover from the deepest and longest depression on record. George Osborne’s announcements on childcare, investment in industrial research and of course raising the personal income tax allowance to £10,000 are welcome steps in the right direction. They are all are clear examples of Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition, not least the flagship move on the tax threshold. These measures, however, don’t go nearly far enough to support businesses starved of credit or households facing escalating living costs and squeezed incomes – where was …

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

Clarifying the press regulator’s relationship with the web

To post or not to post?A furore has broken out over whether the Royal Charter on press regulation, and the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill that accompany it, would mean that bloggers and tweeters would be subject to ‘exemplary damages’ in the event of successful complaints brought against them.

The Guardian’s live blogger Andrew Sparrow initially thought that blogs and Twitter might be subject to regulation by the newly created press regulator – the independent body recommended by Lord Justice Leveson. He was swiftly corrected, and the correction sheds light on the source of confusion – the definition of “relevant publisher” in both the Royal Charter and amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Opinion: The road to 2015 – it’s the economy, stupid!

Liberal Democrats gather in Brighton this weekend, with Mike Thornton’s victory still fresh in our minds as evidence of our enduring tenacity as a campaigning force. But what will the people of Eastleigh, and places like it up and down the country, want to see a party of government discussing at this critical juncture? With the main conference agenda looking bland, the issues that matter most to voters are likely to feature on the fringe and in the guise of emergency motions – the state of the economy more so than any.

Figures published recently demonstrate that the health

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 36 Comments

Opinion: AllTrials.net – a crucial campaign on data transparency that will save lives

Medicines save and improve lives, can also cause great harm if inappropriately deployed. To decide which drugs are safe, and which might work in which circumstances, regulators, doctors and scientists need access to all the results from all trials conducted on all drugs that are in use – but this data is all-too-often missing as a result of commercial practices that put millions of lives at risk. A new campaign seeks to bring this largely hidden scandal in medical science, revealed in Dr. Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma, to an end – and with it the needless harm …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: The trouble with George – you can’t argue on economics with such a political Chancellor

Now that the flurry of graphs, snapshot analyses, spin-heavy briefings and counter-briefings is dying down, how to judge George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in the cold winter light?

For me it is a microcosm of Osborne’s time in No. 11 – a smattering of politically calculated and superficially populist measures, masking a dangerously thin grasp of what an economically successful Chancellorship looks like. Moreover, his claim that his mini-budget is fair because it is fiscally neutral doesn’t hold much water.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Opinion: Economics will rightly dominate conference

A fairer, more sustainable economy – that’s what Lib Dem conference will be about
I’d like propose a new hashtag – #IAgreeWithSimon. Hughes, that is, specifically I agree with this:

At the next election we will be judged by whether relative to the rest of the western developed world we have steered our way through these difficult waters.

The government’s record to date is not encouraging, and with Liberal Democrats gathering in Brighton on Saturday to debate how the to shape the nation’s political economy, conference fringe will once again be where it’s really at.

The Social Liberal Forum has an excellent

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Are we being taken for a First(Group)-class ride?

As someone who has used the west coast mainline regularly for the past fifteen years (and would have done so more if the cheaper fares were more readily available), I can testify to a significant improvement in reliability and levels of service in recent years. Much of this was of course down to the £9bn and more of public investment in upgrading the line, and much was down to Virgin themselves – I carry no torch for Sir Richard but there’s little denying that Virgin trains, expensive though they undoubtedly can be, ran what became a reliable, punctual, comfortable service.

But …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 19 Comments

Clegg’s economic gear shift must be driven by Plan C

With the UK’s double-dip recession biting harder than previously thought, growing unease at the economy’s failure to recover appears to have elicited something of a change of emphasis at the heart of government. If Nick Clegg’s Financial Times interview (£) signifies a genuine change of direction in economic policy, and it would be welcome if so, we should ask in which direction we’re now facing. The Social Liberal Forum recently published Plan C, our approach to achieving a fair, sustainable economy, so it pays to benchmark Clegg’s call to “shift up a gear” against the values

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Wealth taxation is now firmly on the government’s radar

As part of the long-standing Liberal Democrat commitment to fair taxation, expressed so clearly by David Laws, the party has often called for a greater emphasis on wealth taxes.

As a direct result of these calls, it is now clear that the government is considering some form of wealth taxation to help deliver another long-standing Lib Dem tax policy – giving millions of low- and middle-earners a welcome boost by raising the income tax threshold to £10,000.

The precise nature of increased taxation on wealth is a topic of much discussion. Radio 4′s Today programme carried an interesting discussion of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Senior Tories voice growing concern over NHS reforms, calling for ‘unnecessary and unpopular’ Bill to be scrapped

The Health and Social Care Bill has long been criticised by doctors, nurses, many Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. To the list of those concerned about the impact of Andrew Lansley’s reforms can be added senior Tory figures including Tim Montgomerie, editor of ConservativeHome blog, and several members of the Cabinet.

According Tim’s editorial this morning, following on from a Times article earlier in the week (£), Conservative Cabinet Ministers are sufficiently concerned over how the reforms were being handled to press for the contentious components to be dropped and for only those elements that retain cross-party …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 30 Comments

Nick Clegg on being Nick Clegg in The House magazine

Deputy Prime Minister gave a wide-ranging interview to The House magazine, in which he discusses how it’s right for the two coalition parties to differentiate themselves once a stable government was formed:

In the run-up to the general election, you may remember, the tabloids were screaming, saying that if there was a hung Parliament locusts would descend from the sky and the sun would be blotted out, you know… so we needed for those first few months to show the most important thing of all, which is this is a government that works, and actually works rather well.

Of course,

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

New Lib Dem appointments to government

According to the No. 10 website, Ed Davey MP will replace Chris Huhne as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, with Norman Lamb to replace Davey in his role at the Department for Business.

Completing the changes, Jenny Willott becomes an Assisstant Government Whip, and Jo Swinson replaces Norman Lamb as Nick Clegg’s PPS.

Congratulations to those Lib Dem MPs taking up new positions in government.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

IPPR: making the Third Wave of Globalisation work for us all

A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), headed by a foreword by Lord Peter Mandleson, takes an in-depth look at the positive and negative impacts of the increased internationalisation of trade – what they characterise as the Third Wave of Globalisation.

IPPR’s Will Straw and Alex Glennie set out how the modern increase in global commerce is distinct from those seen around the Industrial Revolution and World War II that were dominated by the UK and the USA respectively. Today’s growth in global trade is lead by developing economies in the East with a …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

What’s the most effective way of ensuring fair wages for low earners?

The question arises from James Graham’s excellent blog on how raising the personal income tax allowance, a central plank of Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition, makes it more likely that large companies will pay fairer wages.

James was responding to Zoe Williams in the Guardian (well worth a read), who rightly highlights the negative societal impact of companies paying their employees wildly differing amounts – sky-high executive salaries at one end of the spectrum, and sub-living wages at the other that  have to be topped up by complex and costly welfare spending.

Of late there has been …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Labour’s stance on high pay leaves the ball firmly in Vince Cable’s court

The appearance of cross-party consensus in politics usually makes me welcoming and wary in equal measure – welcoming as it signals a weakening of the fierce discord between political tribes, wary because the sheen of consensus often betrays a deep underlying suspicion of the ability of any party to take on the challenges they face.

Excessive remuneration appears to be the latest issue on which the three main parties appear to agree – it apparently unites the hitherto unlikely trio of Vince Cable, Ed Miliband and, latterly it seems, David Cameron around the recognition that extremes of …

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

Will Lansley’s NHS reforms make episodes like the PIP implant scandal more common?

Such is the argument deployed by the editor of the UK’s leading medical journal, Richard Horton, in analysing the implications of both the recent breast implant scare and the Health and Social Care Bill for the NHS.

Horton acknowledges that the specific case of PIP, and the industrial-grade silicone they appear to have used in breast implants, represents clear regulatory failures at the hands of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  The Health and Social Care Bill has very little to say about how the way in which medical devices are regulated and any changes to the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

Lib Dem council candidate in trouble over online comments

Oh dear

A number of posts on Facebook page were seemingly calculated to deliberately offend Muslims — including spreading outright smears. Stones claimed that the Royal British Legion were “not selling poppies in certain areas of the UK”, implying that objections from Muslims were behind the decision

The comments have since been removed and an apology issued:

We welcome Mr Stones’ unreserved apology and acceptance that the comments he copied and pasted were completely unacceptable.

 

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Nick Clegg’s priorities for 2012

The Voice’s Mark Pack has been writing about the Party’s challenges in 2012 – as if on cue, leader Nick Clegg set out his priorities for Lib Dems in Government in a Radio 4 Today interview which you can hear in full here.

As reported in The Guardian, these priorities include tackling tax avoidance by both corporations and wealthy individuals, clamping down on excessive and undeserved top pay, and re-engaging with governments and business in Europe following the Prime Minister’s unhelpful showing in Brussels at the end of last year.

Pressed on how that re-engagement would materialise, Nick …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

What Lib Dem members make of drug reforms and regulations on alcohol and tobacco sales

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 564 party members responded, and we are publishing the full results here over several days.

Seeking to assess the support amongst the party membership for reforms to how alcohol, tobacco and currently illicit drugs are regulated, the latest LDV members survey has thrown up some interesting results – we’ll start by looking at what respondents make of the current regulatory regimes for alcohol and tobacco.

Most LDV readers back status quo on

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Huhne: Tory right wants UK to be semi-detached member of EU

Politicshome points us towards an interview in The Independent with Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who warns that the Tory eurosceptic (or should that be europhobic) right wants nothing more than the UK to become ‘semi-detached’ from the EU.

Criticising the Tory right’s approach to the EU, he says:

I am worried there is a tendency on the Conservative right wing, a significant part of its parliamentary party, that does not appreciate the importance of being at the table in Brussels when it comes to negotiating the rules for the single market – and does not understand the strength

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Vince Cable – “we’re reforming UK’s banks, and we’re getting on with it”

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary confirmed yesterday that the Government would accept, in full, the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) Chaired by Sir John Vickers (see this video to see for yourself).

Anticipating Chancellor George Osborne’s formal announcement today, Vince told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that the  separation of retail and investment banks –  ‘something I and the Liberal Democrats have pushed on for a long time’ – will go ahead, indicating that the ‘angry heckling by banks’ (Marr’s words) had failed to blow the Government off-course.

Indeed Vince went as far as  to …

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 18 Comments

LibLink: In defence of the Lib Dems

Yours truly has a post on the New Statesman rolling blog The Staggers, responding to Mehdi Hasan’s rather provocative question, “What’s the point of the Liberal Democrats?”

Hasan pointed out five areas in which the Lib Dems had (in his view) “sacrificed their distinctive beliefs and principles and received little in return.”

I responded with my own 5 points, including:

1) Ask the nearly 1 million low-paid workers who have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether thanks to a Lib Dem manifesto commitment delivered in government. With the prospect of further significant reforms to come to make

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

LDVideo: Ending the War on Drugs

This video is a short film made by reason.tv and covers a measured, reasoned debate on why and how we should end the global war on drugs that took place at the libertarian Washington D.C think tank the Cato Institute: Ending the global drug war

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Lords Rennard, Carlile, and Lester, with Lynne Featherstone, defend rules on religious civil partnerships

The House of Lords yesterday dismissed fears surrounding new regulations allowing religious institutions to celebrate same-sex civil partnerships on their premises. Some campaigners hard argued that such rules could force them to do so against their will, an argument that was laid to rest by Peers. In doing so, they gave the green light to liberal religious organisations to allow same-sex couples to register their civil partnerships under their auspices.

The Lords debated Conservative Peer Lady O’Cathain’s motion to have new regulations on civil partnerships delayed because of fears that equality campaigners could use the Equality Act 2010 or the Human …

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 23rd Apr - 10:52pm
    This is good stuff, I saw it whilst browsing some other sites. I think there needs to be a sea change in opinion on the...
  • User AvatarMartinB 23rd Apr - 10:17pm
    Paul Barker “The article & most of the comments strike me as a bit naive, the survey will be open to our enemies & any...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 23rd Apr - 9:42pm
    @John Dunn "For Ukip MEP think (St George), and for the Brussels EU establishment think (Dragon)." For UKIP supporter, think fairy tales.
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 23rd Apr - 9:29pm
    @John Dunn What is your point?
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 23rd Apr - 9:29pm
    Thanks Jenny. Some radical liberals think people should be "free to copy" because apparently electronic data isn't "scarce", but it's completely not true because websites...
  • User AvatarSuzanne Fletcher 23rd Apr - 9:25pm
    for John Dunn who says " To aid your thinking, remember that today is St Georges Day. For Ukip MEP think (St George), and for...