Author Archives: Seth Thevoz

Opinion: Blast from the Past: Wisdom from the old Liberal Party

Amidst the party’s recent problems, a lot of people have been talking about the party’s principles, and in particular, the preamble to the constitution.

As a statement of principles, it’s fine – I would imagine that most Liberal Democrats can sit through it, nodding in broad agreement. It speaks to my head – but not my heart.

And we mustn’t imagine that it’s set in stone. I recently dug up this beauty: the Preamble to the Constitution of the old Liberal Party, from 1980. It’s stirring stuff, and is really worth a read.

The original preamble was …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 102 Comments

Opinion: Gordon must resign if he loses his majority

There is a strange bit of spin being put out by the Tories that a hung parliament with a large number of Lib Dem MPs returned would mean Gordon Brown remaining as Prime Minister. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? This assumes that somehow the Liberal Democrats who clenched their teeth throughout 13 years of Labour violation of civil liberties, corruption, and senseless war, are suddenly going to fly to Brown’s rescue. That’s playing fast and loose with the facts.

For a good precedent, look no further than the last hung parliament in 1974, when Ted Heath’s Tories …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Opinion: saving General Election night – a mistake?

Democracy has been saved “at the eleventh hour” – that’s right, the cross-party “Save general election night” campaign has successfully lobbied the government to stop councils from delaying counting votes until a day after the election.

It seems many Liberal Democrats are welcoming the right outcome for the wrong reason.

There are two main possible justifications for this:

(1) Counting the votes as soon as possible, to minimise the risk of someone tampering with ballot boxes.

(2) Feeding the frenzy of wanting instant results broadcast as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, the campaign has been geared towards the latter, and most Lib Dem MPs who’ve supported …

Posted in General Election and Op-eds | 19 Comments

Setting the Record Straight: Labour and the NHS

So, it’s the silly season again, and politicians are once more gripped by an irrational argument. No change there.

But for those of us who study history, the latest furore over the NHS is positively nauseating, with people apparently split into the camps of those who decry its very right to exist, and those who suddenly pretend they haven’t spent the last few years grumbling about how it’s in dire need of reform.

Part of this division is built upon a myth – a boil that needs to be lanced. We’re so used to Labour politicians churning out the line that Labour gave us the NHS, that we’ve begun to unthinkingly accept it. When Ian McCartney MP celebrated Labour’s centenary in 2006, he actually shed a tear for the NHS as Labour’s greatest triumph. Anyone familiar with 1940s history will tell you that this version of events is a cruel lie.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

The Sustainable Communities Act – at last an opportunity for liberal local government!

Liberal Democrats have every reason to be excited about the Sustainable Communities Act, which kicks in this year. Co-sponsored by our very own Julia Goldsworthy, and passed with cross-party support, it offers a unique opportunity which Lib Dems would ignore at their peril.

Quite simply, it’s a piece of devolved, ‘opt-in’ legislation. Participation isn’t compulsory, but councils can choose to get involved – and on their terms. The Act enables local councils to submit proposals to the government on how they can promote ‘local sustainability’. This is extremely loosely defined. It’s anything which will contribute to ‘the improvement of …

Posted in Local government and News | Tagged | 1 Comment
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