Tag Archives: centreforum

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

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 …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

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 …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

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 …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

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…

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 21 Comments

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 …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

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:

Posted in Lib Dem TV | Also tagged | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

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

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

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 …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

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 …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | Leave a comment

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 30 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 97 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

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

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

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 …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

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.”


Posted in YouTube | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Ed Balls has a new take on having your cake and eating it

There are two problems with a Liberal Democrat like myself blogging about Labour Party conference. First, as I’ve so often seen from the other side of the fence, an outside blogging about another party’s conference frequently misreads what is really happening. And second, no blogger can compete with Hopi Sen and his cat.

So caveats deployed and on to the confusion that Ed Balls’s speech today left me in. For he had two messages: first, that Labour can’t promise to undo the government’s cuts and, second, that many of the cuts are wrong. Either on its own would be a …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 2 Comments

The Independent View: Centre Forum is wrong about aid – UK aid makes a difference

At a time of economic difficulties, it is welcome that the Coalition Government is retaining its commitment to the UK overseas aid budget. Indeed, UK aid is demonstrating great value for money, and making a real difference in the lives of the poorest. Which is why CentreForum’s recent paper by Pauline Dixon and Paul Marshall ‘International aid and educating the poorest’ is so puzzling. The report paints an alarming – but highly partial – picture of aid doing little to help reduce poverty, promote growth or achieve progress in education, and everything to line the pockets of corrupt elites. …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: CentreForum’s parenting report is a step in the right direction

Liberal think tank CentreForum has produced a report, Parenting Matters, which advises the Government to do more to promote better quality parenting, specifically targeted at those families who need it most.

Much of the publicity surrounding the report concentrated on its “5 a day” campaign which suggests that parents should:
    1. Read to their child for 15 minutes
    2. Play on the floor with their child for 10 minutes
    3.  Talk to their children for 20 minutes every day with the television off
    4. Adopt positive attitudes to their child and praise them frequently
    5.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

News in Brief: Ming savages Danny, ‘Parenting Matters’, and Don Foster on “rodents with wings”

Former party leader Ming Campbell is apparently furious with fellow Scottish Lib Dem, Danny Alexander, according to the Telegraph.

The two MPs are, it appears, at each others’ metaphorical throats over the handing over to the British army of RAF Leuchars in Fife (Ming’s patch), while RAF Lossiemouth in Moray (Danny’s neighbouring patch) — though it should be noted that RAF Kinloss, also close to Danny’s own consituency, will suffer the same fate as Leuchars.

The Telegraph quotes Ming implying with scarcely veiled fury that Danny’s intervention in the defence …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Stephen Williams MP writes: Backbench committees and the louder Lib Dem voice

There has been much talk in recent weeks about how Liberal Democrats show our distinctiveness and make the party’s voice heard more loudly in government.

A key part of this is the role of the Lib Dem parliamentary committees, one of which I co-chair.

These committees are not simply talking shops. They perform two important functions: making our influence felt within government and preparing the ground for party policy in the future.

Increasingly, the fruits of these committees are being seen.

The Coalition Agreement is the contract that underwrites this government. It sets out the policy agenda agreed between ourselves and our Coalition …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 5 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 18th Apr - 6:19pm
    Mark Valladares Does it really matter if he's Danish or Norwegian? The point is still the same, he comes from a small country with no...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 18th Apr - 6:13pm
    Slightly off-topic, but I would like to suggest that some who write articles for LDV should look at the site before doing so, and instead...
  • User Avatarroger roberts 18th Apr - 6:00pm
    1950
  • User AvatarJenny Barnes 18th Apr - 6:00pm
    If we're discussing electrical power, then the usual measure of output is the kW. Not a notional "home", which could mean anything from the 0.5...
  • User AvatarRadical Liberal 18th Apr - 6:00pm
    ''Similarly, constructive debate of the highest standard requires that participants interpret each other’s arguments charitably; that is choosing the strongest and noblest of the possible...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 18th Apr - 5:58pm
    Could I add a couple of other suggestions ? Refer to the original post, not someone elses comment. Comments on comments often result in a...