Tag Archives: centreforum

The Independent View: “I’m a believer in the benefits of well-managed immigration” says Clegg

Nick CleggOn Tuesday, in a speech in Manor House in north London, Nick Clegg gave a major speech on immigration. Like the immigration speech he gave last year, hosted by CentreForum, his recent speech will be hotly debated and greatly misrepresented.

The speech was clearly an attempt to provide reassurance to the British public that the Lib Dems wanted a fair immigration system that enabled “the brightest and the best” to come to work and study in the UK but was robust in stamping out cheating and abuse. Nick believes this is important because:

… being a nation at ease with diversity and difference does not happen by accident. Successful immigration systems have to be managed. People need to see that they are good for society as a whole. Otherwise all you do is create fear and resentment – you give populists an open goal.

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Making the pursuit of happiness as important as GDP

cf reportOver the past 12 months I have been working with mental health experts and the think-tank CentreForum, grappling with the challenge of how we can improve mental health care.

Today sees the publication of our final report, The pursuit of happiness: a new ambition for our mental health. It reflects the expertise of many, makes a number of recommendations to transform not just health services, but the mental health of the nation, and it has one overarching call – that the pursuit of happiness should be a priority …

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Opinion: Public services need public involvement

arrest in chicagoI must admit, I have become sceptical about the word ‘empowerment’.  For two reasons.  One is that it is a Blairite word, and based on a misunderstanding about where sovereignty lies.  Power isn’t distributed by an all-powerful prime minister. People already have it – they give it to the governments – but sometimes they have to be encouraged, persuaded or cajoled to use it.

The other reason I have become sceptical is my experience of the word.  I have sat in too many conferences where disabled people are encouraged to …

photo by: grendelkhan
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The Independent View: Scotland, vote no and let’s all move towards a Federal UK

Brazil v Scotland 22As an outsider, analysis about September’s Scottish Independence Referendum is something of a minefield. There is space to constructively critique the SNP’s proposals, but needs to recognise that I don’t have a vote, and that Lord Robertson-style hyperbole about a Scottish “cataclysm” is not just offensive – and for unionists, counterproductive – it is inaccurate, too.

So let me begin by making clear that in my CentreForum paper analysing Scottish independence published today, I believe that Scotland is perfectly capable of becoming an …

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Calling all writers – two essay competitions on liberalism and liberty coming up soon

We bring you news of two essay competitions which may have escaped your attention.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 06.31.09CentreForum marks the 10th anniversary of the Orange Book

Can you believe it’s 10 years since the Orange Book? That publication is celebrated by some, reviled by others within the Liberal Democrats. It can never be accused of being boring though. It stimulated one of the biggest policy debates in the history of the party. It was also much maligned as some sort of right wing credo but people forget that Steve Webb wrote for …

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Opinion: Lib Dems should get behind renaming of National Insurance

Tory MP Ben Gummer is today introducing a 10-minute rule bill “to make provision for National Insurance to be known as Earnings Tax”. It’s a very simple renaming proposal. But branding is important, not least in politics. The Chancellor is “said to be attracted to the idea”, so if Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg were to support it, the change could make it into the Budget.

It’s well known that National Insurance is an extra income tax in all but name. As far back as 1994, Lib Dem policy was “to abolish national insurance contributions and create an integrated tax …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Government should make New Year’s resolution to tackle mental health employment scandal

Mental health has rightly gone up the political agenda since the coalition came to power. Long neglected, mental health problems cost the UK in excess of £105 billion annually and affect one in four of the population.

Earlier this month saw publication of the most comprehensive picture of progress on mental health. The government’s Mental Health Dashboard brings together in one place mental health data from a wide range of sources for the first time. Its aim is to monitor the progress achieved in implementing the No Health Without Mental Health strategy.

My successor at the Department of Health, care …

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LibLink: Paul Marshall – England should run football the German way

A football groundToday is the first day of competitive action in the Premiership. To mark the occasion, The Times has published an article by Paul Marshall, ‘England should run football the German way’.

Paul is well-known in Lib Dem circles as chair of the liberal CentreForum think-tank and co-editor of The Orange Book. He’s also a passionate Manchester United supporter and was one of the so-called ‘Red Knights’ who fought for a supporter-based buy-out of the club. And his article sets out what English football needs to learn …

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The Independent View: Employee ownership and responsible capitalism go hand in hand

The Fourth of July was a day of celebration in the UK this year. It was the first annual Employee Ownership Day, designed to raise awareness of employee owned business. Celebrations were more reserved than the Fourth of July celebrations in the US – the most indulgent thing I could find was a commemorative cushion cover made in a John Lewis factory in Lancashire. But employee ownership is definitely something to be celebrated, even if we don’t go in for the carnivals and fireworks.

Employee Ownership Day is part of a wider government strategy to promote employee ownership. Other initiatives …

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A longer read for the weekend: Tim Leunig on how to increase airport capacity in the UK

leunig bigger and quieterCongratulations to Tim Leunig — these days a senior adviser in the Department for Education, but until recently chief economist at the CentreForum think-tank — whose report Bigger and quieter: the right answer for aviation was the winner this week of the economic and financial category at Prospect Magazine’s Think Tank of the Year Awards 2013.

Tim’s report, published jointly by CentreForum and Policy Exchange, examined all the options for increasing airport capacity in the UK. It supports placing four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site, doubling the existing capacity to 130 million passengers, and cementing it as Europe’s premier hub:

We argue that the first best solution is to build four new parallel runways, arranged in two sets of pairs, immediately to the west of the existing Heathrow airport. These would run above the M25, and Wraysbury reservoir. The Poyle industrial estate and a relatively limited amount of housing would need to be demolished. Clearly the problem with Heathrow at present is noise. Moving the runways west reduces noise over west London, since the planes will be higher over any given place. We will reinforce this noise reduction by banning the noisiest planes. This is not possible in the short run, but could be achieved by 2030, a plausible date for this airport to open.

In addition, narrow bodied planes will be required to land more steeply, as they do in London City. Again, this means that they are further up when they are above any particular place, reducing the amount of noise that reaches the ground. Finally there would be an absolute ban on night flights.

Interested in reading more? Here’s the link, and below’s the full document…

Bigger and quieter: the right answer for aviation — Tim Leunig for CentreForum / Policy Exchange (October…

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Your essential weekend reader — my personal pick of the week’s must-reads

It’s Saturday evening, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from all those I’ve linked to this last week. You can follow me on Delicious here.

Political predictions: as the year ends, what does 2013 hold for the main party leaders? – Andrew Rawnsley sanely assesses the 12 months to come: ‘Nick Clegg and David Cameron face more of the same. Ed Miliband’s future is more complicated. He has choices.’

No longer the dunce – Anne McElvoy whispers the …

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg – Governing Britain from the centre ground (speech and Q+A)

Here is the speech that Nick Clegg gave to Centreforum yesterday:

Here is the Q+A session that followed the speech:

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Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Three big things I’ve got wrong since I’ve starting blogging and commenting – ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie confesses to a trio of big errors on the NHS, higher-rate tax and equalities: “One of the many reasons I don’t want to be an MP is that I think this sort of ability to think openly and reflectively is probably impossible when you are standing for office.”

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LibLink: Richard Reeves on One Nationism

Over at the CentreForum blog, Richard Reeves, former Director of Strategy to Nick Clegg and now associate director of CentreForum, has a post discussing the “political movement that now sweeps all before it”: One Nationism.

Here’s an extract:

All the main political parties have now made their claim to be the true heirs to “One Nation” politics.

The Conservatives were ahead of the game by a century or so, of course. But in more recent years, non Tory leaders have turned to One Nationism to pitch for the centre ground: though none as audaciously as Ed Miliband this week.

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Making work pay – how taxes should work better for the ‘squeezed middle’

The Resolution Foundation helped give birth to the phrase ‘squeezed middle': that group of low-income individuals and families just above the threshold to qualify for most welfare help, but only just able to make ends meet, and always in danger of slipping back into poverty.

Today they’ve published a report written by Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, identifying key reforms that could allow the tax and welfare system to redistribute more efficiently. Here’s the summary-of-the-summary:

Simply making the current system more generous to those on low incomes will not be sustainable in the long run. Reforms to

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The Independent View: A Queen’s Speech that liberals can get behind

ConservativeHome is busy putting out its own version of the Queen’s Speech. The point of the exercise is to map out what the Conservatives’ legislative agenda might have looked like had they won a majority in 2010.

The leading liberal think=tank CentreForum has done something similar. Last week, we came up with nine measures that we would like to see enacted by a big ‘l’ liberal government. I have listed them below, and placed in brackets the government department that each of them would fall under. With the exception of Lords reform, we don’t expect to hear any …

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Opinion: Building an economic recovery

Two issues on which there appears to be virtual universal consensus across the political spectrum are  the pressing need to address the UK‘s housing problems and the economic benefits of a rejuvenated construction sector. The lack of adequate affordable and social housing has been a major weakness of the UK economy and social fabric for many years.

This problem has manifested itself in seriously overpriced housing costs relative to incomes, soaring housing benefit expenditures, uncompetitive labour costs and inter-generational inequity.

The Centreforum report Delivering growth while reducing deficits – lessons from the 1930s  highlights the major part that house building played …

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Chris Nicholson resigns as CentreForum chief executive, appointed Ed Davey’s new special advisor

When Chris Huhne resigned as energy and climate change secretary last month, he didn’t just create a vacancy in the cabinet — his departure also triggered some musical chairs elsewhere.

The same day Ed Davey was appointed Chris Huhne’s sucessor, Duncan Brack and Joel Kenrick departed as Chris’s special advisors. You can read Duncan’s take on his time in the job here, Liblink: Duncan Brack on how to get green policies implemented in Government.

These two vacancies have now been filled by Katie …

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Opinion: A note to my successor (Part 2)

To read part 1 of Chris’s note to his (as yet unknown) successor as chief executive of Centre Forum click here. Here’s the second, concluding part.

Yesterday I set out three areas of policy where there is a need for liberal thinking to be developed as a note to my successor as Chief Executive of CentreForum, the liberal think tank. Today I set out three further areas and a challenge.

Early Years policy

CentreForum has always placed a high priority on “early years policy” as an engine of social mobility. All the evidence points to the critical importance of years 0-5 …

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Opinion: A note to my successor (Part1)

Liam Byrne famously left a handover note to his successor as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, saying “There’s no money left – good luck!” I was reminded of this as, after a very enjoyable 21 months as Chief Executive of CentreForum, I start on Monday as one of Ed Davey’s Special Advisers at DECC. I suppose the think tank equivalent would be “There are no ideas left – good luck!”

In fact that is far from being the case. One of the joys of running a think tank is that there is never a shortage of ideas to be …

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The Independent View: Taxing decisions – the debate between tax credits and tax allowances

As debate ahead of the Budget rages on about the merits of tax allowances and tax credits, a CentreForum report published this week provides new, detailed analysis of both.

The media has focused on the plight of the ‘squeezed middle’, Ed Miliband wants to help the “squeezed middle” and Nick Clegg is concerned for “alarm clock Britain”. But ‘Taxing decisions: the debate between tax credits and personal allowances’ uses modelling to illustrate the implications of tax allowances more rigorously and objectively than the day-to-day analysis of Fleet Street or Westminster.

The report’s authors, Thomas Brooks and Chris Nicholson of CentreForum, and …

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Time for the Lib Dems to blow the final whistle on national wage settlements

It’s over 50 years since the campaign by Jimmy Hill, then chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, successfully scrapped the maximum wage which operated throughout the football league until 1961. Some probably lament the commercialisation of the game which it set in motion. But the idea that individuals should have a ceiling placed on their wage-earning potential by the authorities seems quaintly absurd today.

Except in the public sector. If you’re paid by the government — if, for example, you work in schools, colleges and universities, or the civil service and local government — then your wages are defined by national pay rates determined by Whitehall and trade union negotiations. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you work, you operate within that centrally-set national pay framework. It is as quaint and as absurd as the wage rules of football were half a century ago.

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The Independent View: Dropping the bomb

A report launched this week caught the headlines by describing the replacement of Trident as “nonsensical”.

“Replacing Trident makes no sense” said the BBC, while the Guardian led with “Trident nuclear deterrent upgrade ‘nonsensical’”.

But they were not quoting the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or any other campaigning organisation. Rather, they were quoting the liberal thinktank CentreForum, which David Cameron has previously commended “for their excellent work”.

Nick Clegg has also indicated the policy significance of CentreForum: “Many of the policy areas my party is implementing in government were developed, tested and refined through dialogue with the CentreForum team.”

The …

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Opinion: Reasons to be Cheerful

Waking up to the encouraging string of headlines as I did on Monday, I’m suddenly wondering if this is the point where we as a party have started getting it right?

If there are three uncontroversial elements to Lib Dem identity then equal marriage rights, campaigning against Trident and defending the individual (Nick Clegg launching the #thisisabuse campaign) are surely good starting points?

Conference is this weekend, so you could be forgiven for thinking these brilliant policies appear pre-emptively in our packs – but no, it’s almost as if we are a party of government: the Deputy Prime Minister appearing

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Opinion: It’s time to scrap Trident

The world is a better place because of the role Britain plays internationally through aid, diplomacy and, when necessary, using force sanctioned by international law. It is worth remembering the many Libyans and Sierra Leoneans who are alive today because of the actions of Britain’s forces.

Yet at a time when the government is preparing to spend at least £25 billion on replacing our Trident nuclear weapons, it is making cuts to the conventional forces that make such interventions possible. There have been £74 billion of defence cuts to date, with another £3-5 billion due to be announced before the Easter …

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Opinion: Vince Cable right to abandon penalties on early student loan repayments

Vince Cable has done the right thing, for the right reasons.

The new student loan system requires well off graduates to pay a higher rate of interest on their loans – up to three percent above inflation. This helps to cover the government losses on loans to graduates who end up on low incomes – overwhelmingly women working part time after having children – as well as making the system more progressive.

Cable was worried that well off graduates would pay off their loan early, to avoid paying the interest charges. He commissioned his department to look into creating early repayment …

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Opinion: 29 Days to save the UK

We are lucky it is a leap year. It gives us an extra day to save the country.

Here are two graphs, both from the Financial Times. This one shows the UK’s Nominal Gross Domestic Product. It shows the development of the double dip recession we are facing.

The figures are up to October 2011. The next will be published in February, but expect the trend lines to continue ‘south’.

Then, here’s a chart of a measure of the supply of money in the economy. It is a broad …

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg calls for ‘John Lewis economy’

Nick Clegg yesterday called on more British companies to offer shares to their employees, arguing it will improve productivity and unlock growth: “We don’t believe our problem is too much capitalism – we think it’s that too few people have capital.”

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Opinion: Before the debate – What’s the evidence?

The relaunch of the Beveridge group featured in Lib Dem Voice on 10th January, said that it hoped to generate debate amongst Liberal Democrats about how public services are best delivered.

Liberals in general are clear that public services should be democratically accountable at the lowest possible level. Where there is far less agreement is the role of choice, competition and the private and voluntary sector in provision of these services – particularly in relation to health and education. Inevitably many people’s reactions are heavily influenced by their own personal experience as a service user, public service employee or indeed …

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Tim Leunig writes: The problem with Labour’s proposed tuition fees cap

Ed Miliband has seized the initiative at the start of his conference, announcing that Labour would cap student fees at £6,000 per year. This policy is superficially attractive, and is clearly designed to win over LibDem supporters who remain angry at the rise in tuition fees.

Today I have published an analysis of Labour’s proposal. It uses the Business Innovation and Skills graduate income “ready reckoner”, which is based on data from the ONS Labour Force Survey. The underlying data are as good as they can be, although of course predicting graduate incomes in 30 years time is a dangerous …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJenny Barnes 20th Oct - 10:34am
    The trouble with trying to combine economic and social liberalism is that market centred economic liberalism works best in a society populated entirely by sociopaths...
  • User AvatarPaul Fox 20th Oct - 10:26am
    Tim, I don't support this narrative either. However it is time to 'wake up and smell the coffee'. This is where the party is and...
  • User AvatarTim13 20th Oct - 10:07am
    And Richard, I have sat in a bar or two on holiday on the Costa del Sol, surrounded by these ... people. The selfish apology...
  • User AvatarRichard 20th Oct - 9:27am
    Should we necessarily expect rationality from the electorate. At the general election I was impressed by the number of rather elderly voters I encountered who...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 20th Oct - 9:20am
    The comments by Barroso suggest to me that there is confusion in the Commission too. Think of two types of EU immigrant 1. an immigrant...
  • User AvatarTim13 20th Oct - 9:17am
    Paul Fox What some of us here say, Change the Narrative. Just because that has been the leadership position for 4 years should not mean...