Tag Archives: jeremy browne

Full steam ahead on infrastructure

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterOne thing that struck me about Tim Farron’s Beveridge lecture last Saturday was the scale of his ambition for investment in infrastructure.

Conservatives have often talked about their admiration of Victorian values – if only they really did admire those values, because Victorian values included ambition to build an infrastructure, to create a transport, communications and logistics backbone to our economy, to make a difference, to see a problem and not worry about whether fixing it would fit with your ideology, but to just get on and fix it.

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For-profit schools: some evidence of why I’m far from convinced

student_ipad_school - 175Labour’s shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, this week called on Michael Gove to rule out profit-making schools, arguing “Beyond 2015, whether it admits it or not, the Conservative Party intends to introduce the profit motive into English education”.

The Tories have sidestepped the issue and instead invited Labour to turn its fire on the Lib Dems: they claim that Nick Clegg’s advisers Julian Astle and Richard Reeves were behind-the-scenes cheerleaders for profit-making schools. The mercurial Dominic Cummings, Gove’s former special adviser, has made the same allegation. This may very …

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The Orange Book, 10 years on: 5 thoughts on its legacy

Orange_BookToday saw what its co-editor Paul Marshall called the belated launch party for The Orange Book – such was the controversy surrounding its publication 10 years ago that the original event was cancelled. I was only able to attend one of the sessions (on public service reform) so here are five more general observations on its legacy…

1) The Orange Book remains much misunderstood, sometimes deliberately by those who enjoy internal warring, more often by those who’ve not read it (whisper it, some sections are pretty turgid) but know its reputation and assume it’s a right-wing, Thatcherite manual for destroying this country’s social contract. As Paul Marshall re-affirmed today, the aim of The Orange Book was to show how socially liberal aims could best be achieved through economically liberal means, recognising that in the real world both markets and governments fail. Two of its leading contributors are currently the most popular Lib Dem ministers in government: Vince Cable and Steve Webb. That said, it was (for both Marshall and David Laws at any rate) also a very deliberate statement of intent in 2004 that the Lib Dems needed to do more than simply out-Labour Labour by proposing new money and extra staff in every area of public service and argue that was liberalism (which is largely what the party’s 2005 manifesto did).

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LibLink: Jeremy Browne – The Lib Dems must define themselves more clearly

Jeremy Browne - Minister for Crime PreventionFormer Lib Dem minister, Jeremy Browne, fresh from publishing a book calling for the party to return to ‘authentic liberalism’, has issued a further plea in The Spectator for Lib Dems to get distinctive ahead of the 2015 election. Here’s an excerpt:

The Liberal Democrats will struggle to command support in this marketplace without having a sharp definition. The appeal of cautious centrism is limited. …

Where is the demand for a tepid Milibandism or a watered-down Cameronism? Why buy the low calorie version when the full-flavour

photo by: ukhomeoffice
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Why people vote for Liberal Democrat Councillors

Cllr Phil Knowles and winning teamFollowing on from yesterday’s launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for the local government elections, I thought I’d offer a few reflections on why people vote for Liberal Democrat councillors. Why is it that in places like Three Rivers in Hertfordshire and Oadby and Wigston that the Liberal Democrats have been in power for years on end?

Big hearts and hard work

Our councillors are embedded in their communities. They know what’s going on, they keep themselves in touch with what people are thinking and they  listen to …

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What Lib Dem members think about top-rate tax: 53% back 50p (or higher) BUT only if it raises more revenue

Project 365 114 - MoneyLib 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. More than 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

53% support 50p (or higher) top-rate of tax; 31% say stick at 45p; 13% back 40p (or lower)

Currently the top rate of income tax is 45p in the pound for earnings over £150,000. Which rate do you support this top rate being set

photos by: st_u_art & st_u_art
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Jeremy Browne MP responds to LDV debates about his book

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 08.06.08 Liberal Democrats LibbyThank you to everyone on Lib Dem Voice who has taken the trouble to comment on my book ‘Race Plan’. It is healthy to have an active debate about how our liberalism can be applied to address the big political events of our time. I am appreciative of the favourable comments; I also thought it might be of interest (and good manners) to respond to some of the main criticisms and themes that emerged on LDV.

Timing of publication

The timing was determined by the …

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Jeremy Browne, South Korea and ‘Race Plan’

jeremy browne_Reform_Race_plan_coverIs Jeremy Browne really a secret lover of state intervention and a sceptic of free markets, believing in big state spending, government economic planning and regular intervention in the market? For all of the veneer of free marketeering in his book Race Plan, not to mention his choice of Reform as the publisher, it’s a question that comes to mind because in-between praising specific free market, small state policies, Browne regularly praises the results of governments such as the Chinese and the South Koreans, who are anything but.

It’s his praise of South Korea that is the most intriguing, for China can simply be put to one side as dramatic but its own unique case (though, as Stephen Tall has said, it is still an odd example for Jeremy Browne to trumpet).

South Korea is, as Browne rightly points out, seen by many developing countries as the one to emulate, transforming itself from a poor dictatorship to a wealthy democracy with globally successful industries in less than half of one person’s life time.

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Opinion: Liberalism – it’s not a set of policies, it’s a state of mind

8-5-10: They didA couple of things have struck me in the wake of the publication of Race Plan, Jeremy Browne’s personal liberal manifesto.

Don’t worry – this isn’t an article about the book itself. We’ve had enough of those over the last few days (as I write this, the top 5 most read articles on LDV are about it!) – I’d wager there have been more angry comments about the book on LibDemVoice than there are people who have actually read the thing.

Rather, this article concerns the nature of Liberalism.

photo by: James Bowe
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Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’. I’ve read it, so here’s my review…

Jeremy Browne bookThree points to make right from the start about Jeremy Browne’s new book, Race Plan.

First, it’s a wholly Good Thing that a Lib Dem MP is choosing to think aloud, to set out clearly his views. Nick Clegg having decided that he did, after all, like one of the Beecroft recommendations and decided to fire-at-will his home office minister, Jeremy could have slunk away, tail between his legs, to nurse his bitterness. He’s chosen a rather more constructive outlet for his disappointment. By which I mean this book, rather than his short-lived, C.19th-throwback, gap year beard.

Secondly, there is a fundamental problem with the central conceit of this book: that Britain is in a global race, and that if we don’t get fitter, we’ll be overtaken by or competitors in the coming Asian Century, fall behind, and become poorer.

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Jeremy Browne responds on Twitter to Times’s ‘pointless’ front page headline

Three weeks ago, Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne joined Twitter. He’s been putting it to use this morning to refute The Times’s front page headline that claims he said the Lib Dems are ‘pointless’:

As for those imagining that he’s about jump ships, Jeremy couldn’t be clearer:

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What Jeremy Browne did – and DIDN’T – tell The Times about the Lib Dems

the times browne pointlessLib Dems ‘are pointless’ – that’s today’s Times front page lead, reporting an interview it carries with Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne.

You might imagine, therefore, that Jeremy Browne had at some point in his interview said the Lib Dems “are pointless”. But if you read the article you’ll be disappointed. He doesn’t say it. That a newspaper with the reputation of The Times should put in quotation marks made-up quotes is quite something.

However, the headline isn’t based on nothing, even if one of the words attributed to …

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Jeremy Browne and his plan for the privileged

Eton college sign. Photo by Paul WalterOver the last couple of days, discussion of Jeremy Browne’s new book has caused, it’s fair to say, a bit of controversy on this site. Race Plan, contains ideas which make some liberals dance with joy and others wince. We previewed it yesterday and Nick Thornsby has produced an extremely well written review. You might well disagree with it, but he presents his arguments knowledgeably and respectfully.

I have not read this book. I probably will, but it’ll take a wee while before it gets anywhere near the top of my “must read” list. I do, however, feel that I know enough of its contents from Jeremy’s Daily Politics video, various press articles and, of course,  Nick’s review.

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Book review: Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’

Jeremy Browne - Some rights reserved by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeJeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’, it does not take long to discover which of these offices had the biggest influence on his political outlook.

Because while the detail of the book focusses primarily on domestic policy, the theme that pulls it together, which provides its context, is Britain’s role in a rapidly-changing, globalising world.

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Jeremy Browne’s liberal regime to get Britain fit for the global race

Jeremy Browne bookAs we reported last month, Jeremy Browne has been using his time since he left government last October productively, writing a book on what he sees as the challenges facing Britain over the decades ahead, and the liberal approach that her believes is necessary in response to them. The book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for The Global Race, is published today by the think tank Reform.

The conundrum facing Britain is outlined neatly in the book’s first few chapters and can be summarised thus: world power and economic strength is shifting, from the Western powers that dominated the last century, primarily east, to Asia, but also south, to South America and Africa. On a whole range of indicators — productivity, educational attainment, global influence — Britain is losing out or is danger of doing so to these ambitious, focussed countries.

How do we respond? Do we accept relative decline as an inevitable consequence of globalisation? Or do we rethink our approach and seek to maintain the competitive advantage and influence on the world stage that we have grown used to? Browne’s answer is emphatically the latter, and he is clear on what form that response should take: it should be distinctly, “authentically” liberal.

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Jeremy Browne joins Twitter. In unrelated news, his new book’s out next month

I published the complete and utter list of Lib Dem MPs’ first tweets last week, so it seems only fitting to include the latest first tweet – from Taunton MP Jeremy Browne (updating David Penhaligon‘s famous injunction):

jeremy browne_Reform_Race_plan_coverWe can expect to hear a lot more from Jeremy in the coming weeks. He’ll shortly be publishing a book, Race Plan An

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A longer listen for the weekend: Can liberalism be better advanced by Lib Dems or Tories?

That was the topic up for debate at a fringe event a week ago at Spring Conference, hosted jointly by the Electoral Reform Society and Liberal Reform.

Lisa Smart, PPC for Hazel Grove, chaired the discussion, with Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne, Conservative and Director of Bright Blue Ryan Shorthouse, and the ERS’s Nick Tyrone completing the panel.

As Jeremy indicates at the beginning of his remarks, he can answer the question shortly: the Lib Dems are the proper home for liberals. But fortunately for the audience he elaborated a little, including some challenges that he thinks the party has to meet if it is to remain at the liberal cutting edge.

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Jeremy Browne questions wisdom of ratchet effect on tax cuts while the deficit remains so high

Jeremy BrowneThe Huffington Post reports some interesting comments by Jeremy Browne, Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane and former foreign and home office minister. Browne expresses reservations over campaigns to raise the threshold further as a method of seeking to attract credit for the policy, suggesting that the Lib Dems should do so by reminding voters of the substantial increase that has already taken place.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

A former Lib Dem minister has criticised Nick Clegg’s flagship policy of pushing to increase the amount of money people can earn before the pay income tax.

Jeremy Browne, who served as a coalition Foreign Office minister and Home Office minister, said the Lib Dems should be careful not to message to voters there was “money to splash around” given the size of the deficit.

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Government reshuffle: party members’ views on Moore, Heath and Browne

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 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

News of this week’s mini-reshuffle – Simon Hughes’s elevation to government in place of Lord (Tom) McNally – came too late to be included in our latest survey. But we did ask about the previous reshuffle in October, when Nick Clegg made a number of changes to the Lib Dem ministerial ranks, including his first sacking …

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Jeremy Browne talks to the Times on his sacking and not being a Tory

Clegg and BrowneIn today’s Times, Jeremy Browne reveals that he has been approached by senior Tories, including Grant Shapps, who “he suspects were seeking his defection” (£). He describes his sacking from the Home office as disorienting, puzzling and painful. He says that he received a black mark over the Go Home poster van row. The Telegraph’s Benedict Brogan, however, has tipped Browne for defecting and joining a future Tory cabinet.

Talking to the Times, Browne signals his dismay with Clegg’s effort to distance the Lib Dems from the Tories. He urges the party to take credit for the government’s “central pillars”: reducing the deficit, crime and education reforms, and also curbing immigration.

He says the party is a “shopping trolley that defaults to the Left” and accuses a “substantial number” of Lib Dems of being happy as a “peripheral force that campaigns against the Conservatives.”

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Norman Baker MP writes… Proud of the Lib Dem record on crime prevention

Two weeks is a long time in politics. In a few days I’ve gone from high-speed rail, environmental issues, and cycling to anti-social behaviour, drug policy and tackling violent crimes. It was a fantastic opportunity to work in the Department of Transport, and I know Susan Kramer will make an excellent Minister. We have achieved a lot in a short period of time, and I know Susan will continue to develop positive, progressive and sustainable transport policies.

I am very pleased to have been appointed as Minister for Crime Prevention, and continuing the good work which Jeremy Browne has done in …

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Opinion: Being tough on drugs means being pro-reform

The Sunday Times is claiming to have knowledge of the results of Jeremy Browne’s drug policy “grand tour”. In an article today, Put that in your pipe, Mrs May, the paper describes many conclusions expected to feature in the final report which will bring great cheer to the ordinary Liberal Democrat member:

“A review ordered by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, and due to be published before Christmas, is expected to suggest Britain could benefit from emulating two American states where the use of recreational cannabis is legal. The Home Office report is also expected to call for

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Reshuffle redux: how Lib Dem members rated the ministerial performances of the sacked and the promoted

I posted earlier the most recent ratings by Lib Dem members of the party’s government ministers. Here’s how those affected by the reshuffle have done over the three-plus years we’ve been running our members’ surveys

Sacked

Michael Moore (Secretary of State for Scotland, May 2010 to Oct 2013)

michael moore performance

Jeremy Browne (Minister – Foreign Office, May 2010 to Sept 2012; Minister – Home Office, Sept 2012 to Oct 2013)

jeremy browne performance

David Heath (Deputy Leader – Commons, May 2010 to Sept 2012; Minister

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Today’s Lib Dem reshuffle: 4 thoughts from me on what it means

Four quick thoughts from me on what today’s Lib Dem reshuffle means..

1. Nick feels secure enough to be ruthless.

Sacking both Michael Moore and Jeremy Browne is not something Nick would have been able to contemplate a year ago. Then – with the economy still mired in recession, his apology video still fresh in the memory, and Vince reminding everyone he stood ready, willing and able should the need arise – Nick was vulnerable, in need of allies. Now – with the economy recovering, Eastleigh defended and all key conference votes won – Nick feels able to asset himself.

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Civil liberties and social justice: the stumbling blocks to a future coalition?

One of the themes that a number of journalists decided to pursue during last week’s Lib Dem conference was the possibility of a 2015 election outcome which leaves the door open to an arrangement with either Labour or the Conservatives. The LDV team has taken the bait: Stephen has reminded us of the challenges of forming a coalition with either party in 2015, and Joe has warned of the dangers of an equidistance which seeks simply to slit the difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

But amidst the discussions of the politics and the personalities, the one thing that …

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Opinion: Face-veils – What would John Stuart Mill say?

John Stuart MillA court case and a Birmingham school have thrown the dilemma of clothing choices versus personal interaction requirements into the limelight again. It seems to me that the liberal response to this is fairly clear and quite easy to calculate.

Let’s start with some basic facts:

1. Facial expression is a vital part of communication. Some research puts over 50% of human communication as carried in facial expression.

2. Facial identification is the primary – and in most cases only – form of human identification.

Liberals believe in freedom of expression and religion. But that freedom has limits where it impinges on the ability of others to go about their life (“Your freedom ends where my freedom begins” – sometimes attributed to John Stuart Mill, or Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes). Therefore liberals can construct two positions from the basic facts:

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Jeremy Browne: Need for national debate on banning the veil

Jeremy Browne - Some rights reserved by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeJeremy Browne, the Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, told The Telegraph that there is a need for a national debate on whether Muslim women should be banned from wearing the veil in public places. He said:

I am instinctively uneasy about restricting the freedom of individuals to observe the religion of their choice. That would apply to Christian minorities in the Middle East just as much as religious minorities here in Britain.

But there is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married.

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I’m a liberal and I’m sticking up for Nick Clegg over David Miranda and The Guardian

Civil liberties. It’s the issue that unites Lib Dems like no other. While you’ll find a range of views within the party on big issues that matter more to the voters — such as the economy or the NHS or even tuition fees — personal freedom, the right to live your life as you choose, is at the heart of liberalism. Nick Clegg made his name within the Lib Dems as shadow home affairs spokesman by proposing measures like the Freedom Bill and threatening to go to prison rather than carry an ID card.

Yet civil liberties is also the …

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Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging, but more evenly divided on minimum alcohol pricing

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. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging

Do you support or oppose banning brightly coloured branding and packaging for cigarettes and introducing plain packs?

    40% – Strongly support
     
    26% – Tend to support

    Total support = 66%
     
    17% – Tend to oppose
     
    11% – Strongly oppose

    Total oppose = 28%
     
    5% – Don’t know

Two-thirds of Lib …

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Exclusive…Liberal Democrats: “Go home” poster vans “disproportionate, distasteful and ineffective”

go home illegal immigrant posterThe Liberal Democrats, so I hear, had nothing to do with the poster vans sent by the Home Office into 6 London boroughs which have caused much anger in Liberal Democrat circles  as I wrote earlier.  I said that I had seen no evidence that Liberal Democrat ministers had cleared them and it seems that my instincts were right.

A party spokesman told me:

These poster vans were not cleared or agreed by Liberal Democrats in government. We are totally committed to tackling illegal immigration but this is

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