Author Archives: William Hobhouse

Opinion: Generating electricity – why we should push for renewables, not fracking

Green wind farmThis article is about how we generate electricity in the UK, and makes the case for electricity generation to be 100% carbon-neutral, and to be frack-free.

Climate change remains one of the greatest risks of our age. We know that the climate is changing: we can either accept the risks and take what comes, or we can mitigate the risk by using technology to end our dependency on fossil fuels. Liberal Democrats campaign for the latter.

In 2013, figures for the UK and the whole EU for electricity generation are as follows:

energy sources

On these figures, we have some catching up to do. Many would think that given the particular advantages of wind and tides our islands have, we would be doing more than catching up – we would be leading.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 80 Comments

Opinion: Good co-ops, bad co-ops and the funding of the Labour Party

imageWe Lib Dems do not need persuading of the merits of the Co-operative Movement. Founded in Rochdale in the 1840s, it continues to this day to provide an alternative model for business.

However, it cannot be said that there are many takers for this business approach. Apart from a good number of small co-operatives, there are two dominant players. The John Lewis Partnership, which is owned by its employees, and the Co-operative Group, owned by its members.

John Lewis is a success. It is often cited as an example for others. Not so the Co-operative Group which seems to go from one crisis to the next.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: Time to rethink Co-operation

When we moved to Rochdale in 1999, we could hardly fail to take pride that the town was not only the birthplace of Gracie Fields, but of the Co-operative Movement. Moving our banking to the Co-op seemed the right thing to do, and national events a few years ago reaffirmed our commitment to being part of a movement that did things differently.

It is only in the last few years – well before the latest scandal – that I have become disillusioned with the business that purports to have inherited the values and practices of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 48 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats must stay firm on deficit reduction

Osborne -  Some rights reserved by altogetherfoolGeorge Osborne will stand up in the House of Commons on Thursday to announce the government’s intentions for public spending for the 2015-16 financial year in circumstances he neither anticipated nor wished for.

As a result of weaker economic growth and a revision to the estimates of the capacity of the British economy, the structural deficit that the coalition had hoped to eliminate by the time of the next election will exist well beyond it, meaning further spending cuts and tax rises.

Liberal Democrats must spell …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 58 Comments

Opinion: Some thoughts on the NHS from a recent patient

I’ve just spent 3 weeks on a trauma ward in a northern hospital after a nasty accident, and coming from an industrial background, here are some thoughts on the NHS and a Lib Dem approach.

First and most importantly, hospitals are large, high tech and high skill businesses. They are continually investing in equipment, and the best hospitals will have motivated doctors, nurses and managers who take ownership of their jobs and are part of the process to continually improve the clinical excellence and effectiveness of the hospital. Hospitals share many of the challenges of excellence with manufacturing businesses.

What are the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Opinion: Making MORE in Britain with the Regional Growth Fund

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable at a factory 2 - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe Spring Conference will debate the motion on creating a strong manufacturing sector in a strong economy. In Vince Cable, the coalition government has a powerful voice for manufacturing. Significant progress is being made in building a more resilient, diverse and balanced economy. Lib Dems are also becoming confident in charting an interventionist industrial strategy that avoids the twin failures of laissez faire and state support for ailing companies – the two positions characterised by historic Conservative and Labour thinking.

The Conference motion says that government funds made available through the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) has led to the creation and/or safeguarding of over 550,000 jobs

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: Euroscepticism is bad for UK manufacturing

In February 2012, Vince Cable flew to the US to meet with the Chief Executive of General Motors to make the case for why they should continue to invest in the UK for the long term. The BBC reported that the meeting may have played an important role in the company’s decision 3 months later to commit to invest in Ellesmere Port rather than at another of their EU plants.

It is lucky, perhaps, that this investment decision did not come up one year later. Vince would have had a few less cards in his hand. Michael Heseltine put it …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Making the Industrial Strategy Work, Part 1

As the economy slowly rebuilds, Vince Cable’s Industrial Strategy will play a key role in whether we will manufacture more in Britain. The challenge is to replace imports, export more and to be at the cutting edge of new technologies.

The case for government nurturing and supporting long term manufacturing growth in the UK is a compelling one. The challenge is to make this intervention work. This article is the first of four articles – brought together by the Lib Dem Campaign for Manufacturing – from around the country and from different industrial perspectives to inform this debate.

Government should have a different agenda from business. This needs to be said, because too often business’s agenda is self-serving. Shareholders want more profit and lower corporation tax, big business interests want favourable government legislation and employers want to lower the cost of employment. But nearly all these issues are valid for large numbers of businesses whether successful or struggling, whether exporting or not, whether investing or not.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: The Lib Dems should be the party of manufacturing

There are some good economic reasons for the decline of British manufacturing. But decades of government policy are also to blame.

All manufacturers in rich countries face challenges and threats from cheaper labour costs overseas. We can compete successfully with a combination of high levels of productivity and investment, as well as getting the best out of our people.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Liberal Unionism in 2012

There’s no escaping history in our party, and current debates of nationalism, unionism and secession should prompt Liberal Democrats to delve back into the Gladstonian past.

The Liberal Party split over the Union. Gladstone favoured Home Rule for Ireland, Liberal Unionists didn’t, and ultimately joined the Conservative Party. This cemented the Conservative Party as the party of the Union, and it is a position the Conservative Party still holds.

The purpose of this article is, however, to challenge the Conservative Party’s stranglehold over being British.

The existing Conservative argument goes that a Conservative Britain is a Britainthat stands proud and takes no nonsense …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 26 Comments

Opinion: Putting Liberal thinking into practice on taxation

Liberal thinking on tax is based on the principle both that the state has a duty to protect the poor and vulnerable, and that the state can help bring the best out of each individual.

The practical aim of Liberal Democrat tax policy therefore is to help to lift the less well off towards the average. This is not achieved only by handouts – which would be Labour’s priority – but by having a tax system that encourages work and aspiration for the lower paid.

Liberal Democrats are implementing our manifesto commitment of a £10,000 income tax threshold. This is …

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPhil Beesley 1st Oct - 3:09pm
    Quotes from Johnny Luk above. "Our work in setting up 200 student societies on Britain’s campuses was noted in the Lord Young Enterprise for All’...
  • User AvatarCharlie 1st Oct - 3:05pm
    Bring back the old O levels and allow pupils to take them early. Those who were good at maths, could take the O Level at...
  • User AvatarAllan 1st Oct - 2:34pm
    @RC I thank you for the reply, let me narrow NE 2 Teesside this area has many industrial plants and indeed nuclear power, when you...
  • User Avatarmatt 1st Oct - 2:04pm
    I really would like to hear from someone from the Liberal Democrats, What is their position going to be on the £25 Billion pounds worth...
  • User AvatarKay Kirkham 1st Oct - 2:02pm
    Another vote for a Kindle version.
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 1st Oct - 1:51pm
    Thanks for the responses. Let me row back slightly, I don't want to give the impression that I think everything is a huge intellectual muddle...