Tag Archives: centreforum

David Laws joins CentreForum as Executive Chairman; Nick Tyrone becomes Executive Director

News reaches the Voice from CentreForum, the liberal think tank:

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008CentreForum are pleased to announce that David Laws, former Minister of State for the Cabinet Office as well as Minister of State for Schools, is joining the liberal think tank as Executive Chairman, overseeing a new body of work on education policy. This is part of a move by CentreForum to refocus on the core work of the think tank, which will be education and children’s mental health going forward, although projects will continue to be undertaken in other policy areas in which liberal solutions are called for.

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The Independent View: A new report from CentreForum highlights the problems with Labour’s tuition fees policy

A new report entitled “A Labour of Love?”, released today by CentreForum and written by Tom Frostick and Chris Thoung, weighs up the pros and cons of Labour’s recently announced policy on tuition fees, one which revolves mostly around the fees being cut from their current £9k maximum to a £6k ceiling. The report can be read here.

On the plus side, the policy does acknowledge the importance of maintenance grants. It also reopens the discussion that needs to be had regarding the balance between state and individual investment in undergraduate education by lowering the percentage of loans the government estimates will not be repaid. It would also apply to all undergrads, including those currently studying, so would be fair in that regard.

But there is a lot to say about the policy that is negative. If introduced, it would have little to no impact on a staggering lowest 60% of graduate earners and would mostly benefit higher earning graduates only (and even then, up to twenty-eight years after they’ve left university). It is also costed in such a way that could discourage pension saving, and its higher interest rate scheme for wealthier graduates contributes only modestly to the intended progressiveness of the policy. 

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The Independent View: The Liberal case for airport expansion is strong

Centre Forum aviationThe debate over airport expansion, particularly in the South East, has been raging for decades. Later this year, it is due to reach a crucial moment as Howard Davies and the Airports Commission publish their final report. Ahead of this, CentreForum has published a report looking at the liberal case for aviation and explaining how genuine concerns over environmental challenges, noise and regional growth should be addressed.

Though not directly concerned with Liberal Democrat policy, the report does raise questions over the wisdom of the party’s current position.

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Our Don says farewell to conference with a song

Don Foster - Some rights reserved by Department for Communities and Local GovernmentWhen I first started going to Lib Dem conferences, we had fewer MPs than we have now. So, those MPs that we had were run ragged charging from fringe meeting to fringe meeting to speech to TV interview, as they were rather thin on the ground. It always seemed to be our Don Foster who was really doing loads of stuff. I did wonder how he kept going.

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The Independent View: “How to save public service choice for liberalism?” a CentreForum paper by David Boyle

David BoyleIn a series of essays that CentreForum will be releasing over the next few months in anticipation of the book, The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025, the liberal think tank has today released “How to save public service choice for liberalism?” by David Boyle, which can be read here.

It is the fourth in the series; the first, On Blasphemy by Maajid Nawaz, can be read here; the second, an essay by Tim Farron, Neil Stockley and Duncan Brack on green growth and climate change, can be read here; the third, “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” by Adam Corlett, can be read here.

David begins by stating that never has one word caused as many problems as “choice”. The word has become nebulous, and different political parties use it in very different ways. What the paper focuses on is what the word means for liberals.

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The Independent View: “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” – a CentreForum essay by Adam Corlett

In a series of essays that CentreForum will be releasing over the next few months in anticipation of the book, The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025, published today is the paper “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” by Adam Corlett, which can be read here. It is the third in the series; the first, On Blasphemy by Maajid Nawaz, can be read here, and the second, an essay by Tim Farron, Neil Stockley and Duncan Brack on green growth and climate change, can be read here.

Adam’s paper examines the tax system and identifies six key challenges facing any incoming government post-May 2015: simplifying income taxes; taxing investment intelligently; fixing corporate tax biases; reforming inheritance tax; taxing real estate; and making consumption taxes fair.

photo by: Alan Cleaver
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A longer read for the weekend… David Laws on ‘Education: Lessons from this parliament and directions for the next’

david laws centre forumDavid Laws, Lib Dem minister for schools, delivered a keynote speech at CentreForum this week, ‘Education: Lessons from this parliament and directions for the next’.

As the title suggests, it was a reflection on the Coalition’s policies, and in particular the Lib Dems’ achievements. But also a look forward to what he sees as the major educational issues and what Lib Dems should be seeking to do in the next parliament.

You can read the full text over at CentreForum’s site here. But here’s an excerpt in which David looks to the challenges of the five years to come…

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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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