Tag Archives: david laws

David Laws and Vicky Pryce on the crisis in Europe

Monday evening at conference saw a discussion between David Laws, economist Vicky Pryce and Simon Tilford from the Centre for European Reform entitled “Europe: from crisis to growth”.

This wasn’t an event that one went to if one needed cheering up: the overall message coming from all the speakers was a downbeat one, even if they all picked out some small shards of positivity.

Simon Tilford began by giving some reasons why on the face of it the past month has been a rather good one in the ongoing saga of the Eurozone crisis: we had the announcement from Mario Draghi, head …

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Another day at conference, another education policy launched

BlackboardTax, tax and a bit more about tax: that’s been the main theme of the Liberal Democrat conference, from the slogan on badges and the banner outside the building through to the content of speeches and the main policy focus of the media coverage.

When it comes to new policy announcements, however, it is education that has had a strong showing.

First there was the news on summer schools:

Lib Dems announce further £100m for summer schools to help children catch-up
Mr Laws said: “All too often pupils who have made big progress

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Random conference observations from a (new) old grouch

I used to lap up all the conference speeches with unalloyed joy and naive belief.

But, returning to conference after a bit of a break, something has happened to me.

I think I may have seen and heard a lot more these days.

It takes a lot to please me.

So far, here’s some of my random observations.

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David Laws’ speech to conference: no soaring rhetoric but a clear determination to deliver

David Laws is no Tim Farron. It’s hard to imagine him rousing the passions of the party faithful as the party president does.

But what he lacks in crowd-pleasing rhetoric he makes up for in two things: first, a clear passion for education and secondly a seemingly effortless grasp of his brief.

There was little in the way of new announcements in his speech to conference, though he did confirm that the pupil premium would rise to £900 per pupil in 2013 and that by 2015 the Lib Dem pledge to dedicate a total of £2.5bn a year to the policy will …

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LibLink: David Laws – No more “nothing for nothing” politics

Over at The Sun newspaper, the Lib Dems’ new schools minister David Laws has written an article arguing that the Coalition parties are keen to put the summer’s tensions behind them and to to-boot the Government in the weeks to come. Here’s an excerpt:

Some people even started to speculate that the Coalition would end. Or that we would be in for years of drift and dither. But I believe that both leaders have looked over the edge of the Coalition cliff — and neither likes what he sees. A break-up of the Coalition would be an economic disaster. And the

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Conference preview: Saturday and Sunday

This year, the Liberal Democrat autumn conference has one day per theme, covering jobs, education, environment and tax.

Saturday is education day, with David Laws giving a keynote speech. For many party members he is more respected than trusted; recognised for his skills yet leaving people uneasy over quite what a David Laws manifesto would look like or whether it was right to bring him back into government this year. Saturday is his big chance to win over members.

If he chooses to take it, that is – as there …

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David Laws: “An exam for all abilities”

Here’s the text of the email from Lib Dem education minister David Laws to party members today setting out the Coalition’s proposed reforms of the GCSE exam system:

The Coalition has today announced our plan to replace GCSEs with new, reformed qualifications.

Our proposals will restore rigour to the exam system, allow us to compete on the international stage, and end years of grade inflation under Labour.

When some Conservatives suggested that we could bring back the 1950s O-Level, Nick Clegg immediately made it clear that Liberal Democrats would not tolerate such a move. Liberal Democrats will never accept a return

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How much should we tax? How much should we spend? The great unanswered questions in British politics

A few weeks ago I took David Laws to task for proposing the UK needs to reduce public spending to 35% of GDP: it currently stands at 43%.

I stand by the three points I made then:
1) Just because public spending is higher in the C.21st than in Gladstone’s day is not in itself a sufficient argument.
2) Proposals for public spending cuts should be backed up by specific examples. (It’s a favourite trick of Conservative right-wingers in particular, for example, to preach spending restraint while also wanting to build new prisons and buy new weapons systems.)
3) There is no evidence …

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Opinion: After the reshuffle: how can we still claim internationalism?

The reshuffle: the talking point of the last few days. I’m sure we all feel a bit angry and flustered after the Tory side was announced – Hunt at health, Miller as equalities. It really could not have been much less liberal. Our side, though, may at first appear entirely less interesting, and far more acceptable. There were some great moves in the reshuffle, sure. Jo Swinson as an Undersecretary of State. David Laws is back. This reshuffle, though, has cut out something essential to the Liberal Democrats: our internationalism. Lib Dems gone from FCO. No Lib Dems in the MOD. One minister, Lynne Featherstone, in DFID. And Lynne’s briefing (at the time of writing) has still not been an announced. This reshuffle represents an almost complete retreat from international affairs.

Internationalism is one of the things the Lib Dems pride ourselves on: our attitude to the European Union is really quite distinctive amongst mainstream politics, we work closely with our sister parties, and our opposition to the Iraq war was certainly amongst the most vocal. Foreign Affairs is not a fairly ‘non-partisan’ area, as I had it put to me. There are huge divergences in Liberal Democrat and Conservative policy here, and now we have absolutely no one fighting our corner, it seems. Even Lynne in DFID isn’t really going to have much of a say: when behind-closed-door discussion takes place on the European Union, the Eurozone crisis, our involvement in NATO, renewal of Trident, and our relationship with the US, particularly with the upcoming Presidential elections, and other big issues at the moment, DFID are hardly the most involved.

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Tim Farron MP writes… My thoughts on the Cabinet reshuffle

The first proper reshuffle for our party since the 1920s was always going to be a weird situation. I am extremely sad to see Sarah Teather, Nick Harvey, Paul Burstow and Andrew Stunell leave the government. Sarah’s work on the Pupil Premium will leave an outstanding legacy for the next generation, Andrew’s work on releasing empty homes to meet the needs of those in desperate circumstances will make the difference to thousands of people and Nick Harvey’s tenacity in ensuring that a like for like replacement for Trident is kicked off into the long grass has been a quite immense …

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The Independent View: How David Laws can help children and the economy at the same time

When David Laws arrived as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he famously found a note from his predecessor telling him ‘there’s no money left’. With the IFS warning child poverty levels have reached a turning point and will shoot upwards again, we have to hope that any handover note left for him this time is more optimistic, particularly on improving opportunities for poor children.

As Minister for Schools, David Laws will oversee the development of the party’s flagship policy to tackle child poverty, the Pupil Premium, which Sarah Teather lists as one of her main achievements in her time

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Transfer deadline day: Laws, Brake, Foster & Swinson in, Burstow, Teather, Harvey & Stunell out, Clarke loan finishes

I love reshuffle days, they’re just like transfer deadline day. You sit there at your office computer pretending to work while secretly updating the Guardian live blog to see who your side has brought in and let go.

So, have we strengthened the side for the second half of the season or left gaping holes in our defence?

Well, we have managed to hold on to all our big players – Cable, Alexander, Davey and Moore – and, despite losing his place to Alexander after his suspension early in the season, we now have a fighting fit Laws back and ready …

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Reshuffle thoughts: how does it score against my four criteria?

Ahead of the reshuffle, I posted four criteria against which the Liberal Democrat part of the shuffling should be judged. Now nearly all the details are in, how does it look?


Most importantly, have people been put in jobs they’ve got a decent chance of doing well? It’s hard enough being a minister in the smaller party in a coalition government without having lots of people thrown into policy areas they are completely new to.

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Reshuffle round-up: it looks like good news for Swinson & Laws

There’s been plenty of reshuffle chit-chat overt the past few weeks, much of it speculative. However, the Sunday papers appears to included some pretty well-sourced information which went beyond the usual space-filling ‘who knows?’, and appears to suggest good news for both Jo Swinson and David Laws — both of whom enjoyed strong support in our recent survey of members’ preferred back-bencher promotions.

First, The Observer reported that David Cameron’s reshuffle will bring whips back to the fore, with an enhanced whips office incorporating both old-handers and young-turks to help the Tory leader re-assert a grip on his increasingly …

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Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert & David Laws top Lib Dem members’ reshuffle promotion wish-list

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

LDV asked: Which backbench Lib Dem MPs who are not current ministers would you like to see promoted? (Please write-in.) (NB: I’ve set the cut-off for inclusion in this list at 5 individual mentions.)

    Jo Swinson 77
    Julian Huppert 73
    David Laws 66
    Tim Farron 25
    Duncan Hames 21
    Simon Hughes 19
    Andrew George 16
    Tessa Munt 16
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LibLink: David Laws – I still believe the Coalition can last the course

Writing in the Telegraph, David Laws has been giving his thoughts on how Cameron and Clegg can breathe new life into the coalition, not by a new Agreement as he says the one we have is the most effective and bold programme of any peacetime government in the last 100 years. He adds that it’s vital that the Coalition does continue because the consequences of failure for the country would be unpalatable for the country.

Alongside the over-riding priority of the economy and stimulating economic growth, he gives an outline of what the Coalition could achieve over the next two and …

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LibLink: Long reach of the Laws

David Laws may have resigned from the Coalition’s cabinet two years ago, but (after an initial period of wondering whether to quit politics altogether) his influence hasn’t actually waned much. His interests range across economic and social policy: though he was the party’s education spokesman in opposition, he was a natural fit as chief secretary to the treasury in government, however briefly. He is widely expected to make a return to government at the next reshuffle, …

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David Laws: let’s cut taxes and spending. For once, I’m unconvinced. Here’s why…

David Laws has earned himself a generous write-up in today’s Telegraph, with the paper which triggered his resignation from the cabinet two years ago hailing his ‘radical vision of a liberal state’, and lamenting with crocodile tears that his downfall was ‘a great loss to the Cabinet’.

The cause is an interview David has given to the paper in which he makes the case for further public spending cuts and lower taxes — a case he has outlined in greater depth in an article in the current Institute of Economic Affairs journal, highlighted last week on LibDemVoice. Here’s …

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LibLink: David Laws – The Orange Book eight years on

The latest issue of the Economic Affairs journal contains a number of articles discussing the effect The Orange Book has had on the Liberal Democrats since its publication eight years ago. There are articles by CentreForum’s Tim Leunig and by one of the editors of the book, Paul Marshall, among others. Perhaps most noteworthy, though, is a piece by David Laws – the other of the book’s editors – which “examines the origins and impact of the book, and sketches out future directions for policy development”.

Here are some …

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LDV poll: Vince or Tim are Lib Dem members’ top choices for leader in event of vacancy

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 560 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

28% choose Vince, 21% tip Tim: how you voted

Yesterday we reported the finding that 34% of Lib Dem members surveyed thought Nick Clegg should step down as party leader before the 2015 general election compared to 59% who thought he should stay to fight it. Today we report the hypothetical question we then posed: who should take up the reins if for …

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Which of the five Lib Dem reshuffle options will Nick Clegg pick?

Five scenarios for your delectation:

The Lib Dem night of the long beards

The drastic, dramatic and painful option. Clegg says the Liberal Democrats need David Laws’s expertise and media savvy at the heart of economic decision making, restoring him to Chief Secretary to the Treasury and expressing tearful regret that Danny Alexander is off out of the Cabinet, with a resting place as a new Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Cabinet Office where he will not have to handle quite so many tricky TV interviews.

Education, education, education

Too problematic to bring back Laws in a tax and cut role? Bring him …

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Opinion: Austerity and defying the Laws of gravity

“It’s ideology, stupid.” – a subtext to the Queen’s Speech

On Five Live a bond trader says that austerity isn’t working and the government should be more expansionary. In Wake Up to Money a fund manger says that austerity has been overdone and it’s time for countries like Germany and Britain to borrow more.

Yet on Tuesday’s Today programme, David Laws continued to advocate austerity.

It is more and more apparent that ‘economics’ is being used to serve the ideology of a smaller State, damning the idea that the State should have different responsibilities at different times, especially when the private sector is …

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LibLink: David Laws “My second half Coalition agenda”

Writing in today’s Financial Times, David Laws sets out his key priorities for the Coalition, discussing what needs to happen in the economy to ensure growth is achieved alongside deficit reduction. He writes about how crucial it is for the Government to get it right on the economy.

The coalition still has the potential to be one of the great reforming governments of the postwar era. The changes we are making in education, welfare and pensions are radical and right. The country will judge us over our full term and not on the basis of a turbulent few weeks of “here

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Opinion: Time for women, grey hairs and drastic action

In an email to members, ALDC’s Tim Pickstone wrote, “Winning elections as a Liberal Democrat is never easy … Winning those elections when you’re also in Government is even harder.”

Well Tim, what you say is true, but if we console ourselves with these thoughts we are doomed to become a party which, like the Saxons of Hereward the Wakes’s time, is holed up in a few isolated corners and crevices of the land, where our flag is carried by an MP and a council group, well resourced, skilled and of sufficient mass to evade destruction, but unable to link up …

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Six thoughts on the results so far (UPDATED)

An update to my earlier post, adding in the YouTube clip and reflecting a couple of other pieces of news, though still pre-London results.

For the overall picture, see my views on BBC Breakfast from the amazing new Salford studios this morning:

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 80 Comments

LibLink: Mark Pack – Which Liberal Democrat MPs have the media pulling power?

Writing over on his work blog, The Voice’s Mark Pack has been crunching the numbers on the media performances of Liberal Democrat ministers ahead of a likely reshuffle:

No surprise that the top five places are taken by the five Liberal Democrat Cabinet members. Her push for equal marriage reforms has helped put Lynne Featherstone top of the list of non-Cabinet members, whilst Health Minister Paul Burstow’s mid-table ranking is a mixed blessing. He may be a minister in a hugely important area, but given the level of controversy attracted by Andrew Lansley and the Health and Social Care Act, keeping

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LibLink: David Laws – Borrowing to cure a debt problem is not the answer

David Laws has been writing for This is Cornwall. He says:

When Bill Clinton fought to become the US President, one of his staff put up a poster on the wall of the campaign headquarters. The poster read: “It’s the economy, stupid!” It was a blunt reminder to his staff to focus on the big issue of the election, and nothing else. For the British Government, and for people in our region, it is still the economy which is the biggest challenge facing us.

Last week, we received the grim news that the UK economy shrunk in size in the first

Posted in LibLink | 32 Comments

LDVideo: David Laws – “I am very happy to be a backbench supporter of Coalition”

Former Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury David Laws was asked about his future career prospects on the BBC’s Daily Politics this week. Here’s what he said:

Posted in YouTube | 12 Comments

LDVideo: David Laws on the future of the coalition

A couple of weeks ago, David Laws made a speech at Parliament, organised by the Bright Blue think tank, expressing his views on the future of the coalition.

You can watch the very interesting speech below, or on YouTube here.

Posted in YouTube | 12 Comments

LibLink: David Laws on the Budget in the Telegraph

David Laws penned his thoughts about the Budget in the Telegraph yesterday, under the headline “Budget 2012: Not so much a gamble, more a grand strategy”

He writes:

Despite its scratchy origins, this was a strong Conservative-Lib Dem Budget, reminiscent of the earliest days of the Coalition at its best. It was radical and combined both enterprise and fairness. It did not duck difficult decisions or end up with lowest common denominator compromises. At times, the run-up may have looked like Coalition politics at their worst. I would argue that what resulted was Coalition policy-making at its best.

The Liberal Democrats challenged the

Posted in LibLink and News | Also tagged | 34 Comments

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