Author Archives: Bill le Breton

Opinion: How power can now shift from Whitehall to Westminster


The 2015 Parliament could witness the greatest transfer of power from the Executive (and Whitehall) to the Legislature (and the people’s elected representatives in the House of Commons) in the history of our countries.

Tony Greaves has written here and here seeking to explore how this Parliament might operate.

It takes me back to an afternoon in Winchester in 1986. Hampshire County Council, run by Tories for over 100 years, is about to set its budget. The Tories, until that morning, have the slimmest of majorities, thanks to the Chair’s casting vote, but news swishes through the corridors of County Hall – a Tory has said he will not vote for the Tory Leader of the Council’s budget.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 42 Comments

Opinion: The First Rule of Campaigning

pensionsWe wake today to news that the Government is planning Dutch-style collective pension schemes which the minister of state for pensions,the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, says are “some of the best in the world”. The proposed legislation will include the previously announced removal of tax rules that have prevented pensioners taking more than a quarter of their savings in a cash lump sum.

OK, there is no need for switch off. This piece is not going to be about pensions.  It is about campaigning and in particular about integrated campaigning. The subject has been chosen purely at random.  It is Monday. What has a Liberal Democrat minister announced today?  Ah! Pensions.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 31 Comments

Opinion: Sustaining the Recovery

A year ago to the day, here on LDV, I called the turn in the UK economy. We had experienced a double dip recession (later confirmed) and everyone was battening down the hatches for an unprecedented triple dip.

I wrote then in praise of Chancellor Osborne who the day before had authorized a briefing of two Financial Times journalists. Under the title Osborne to Hand Carney New Powers, they had written, ‘George Osborne’s Budget, will pave the way for Mark Carney, incoming Bank of England governor, to come to the rescue of the economy as …

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Opinion: Son of Plan A – why are we supporting?

Economic policy is always a mixture of fiscal, monetary and political policy.

“Nick, George has come up with another of his jolly good wheezes. You remember that Plan A malarkey ..?”

Well, dear reader, you do remember Plan A, don’t you?

Eliminate the deficit by 2015; keep fingers crossed Expansionary Fiscal Contraction (EFC) works; use a 20:80 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts; provide monetary stimulus; flush out the Labour Party, and keep Vince and the ‘SDPers’ in their box.

Well, it put a spanner in the recovery-works and, with no sign of EFC or King’s stimulus working, it was pretty soon shelved …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments

Opinion: 2014 – What’s next?

Steve Richards suggests Nick Clegg, as a pluralist in the Blair tradition and as a sincere and patriotic person, will be open to an agreement with either the Tories or Labour if a balanced Parliament results in 2015.

Clegg is a pluralist, a pragmatic, a believer in good management as good politics and as such sincerely believes that Liberal Democrats in Government are beneficial to the county’s future.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Opinion: Half an hour that changed the future

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced it would reduce or ‘taper’ its level of QE acquisitions from $85 billion a month to $75 billion. In the physical world it was not a touch on the break so much as a slight easing of pressure on the accelerator.

Back in September the FOMC had announced it thought the time for ‘tapering’ was at hand. Long term interest rates (a window on future expectation for growth and inflation) veered up and down as markets tried to gauge the warring claims of the liquidity, income and expectation effects. No clarity: US stock …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 23 Comments

Opinion: “Freedom is a Word I Rarely Use Without Thinking”

A letter originating from the Leader’s Office on Liberal Principles has provoked some much needed discussion on this subject. For example, this opinion piece from Paul Connolly received a warm welcome.

But it seems odd to discuss Liberalism without ever mentioning directly power.

There been a few mentions of that awful concept of ‘empowerment’ which is so deeply ‘illiberal’ and yet seen as a badge to be worn by post 1997 ‘liberals’.

To ‘empower’ is to allocate power. It is in the first instance the acceptance of the taking of power from people and to ‘reallocate it’. It is a fundamentally …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Oct - 1:58pm
    @ nvelope2003 “gaining 30% and second place from 6.8% and fourth place is a remarkable achievement.” I don’t think it was remarkable. If it were...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 21st Oct - 1:50pm
    @Melissa H "Hardly a great endorsement for Ms Brabin who loves Yorkshire spo much she even lives in North London." And who is a woman...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 21st Oct - 1:38pm
    @ Melissa H, She obviously took Norman Tebbit's advice and got on her bike. I am afraid that London is a magnet for many who...
  • User AvatarMatt (Bristol) 21st Oct - 1:34pm
    Melissa - I think we should avoid commenting on Labour's candidate selection process and the person and actions of their candidate and now MP under...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 21st Oct - 1:31pm
    So much speculation and 'what ifs'. I was surprised that the Labour vote held up so well in such an area. Cameron the 'bolter' clearly...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 21st Oct - 1:31pm
    Melissa H It needs to be borne in mind that the campaigning of the main political parties against each other generates turnout. See Witney -...