Post-18 education – a chance for the Lib Dems to make a real impact?

Embed from Getty Images

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, has recently placed the Blair philosophy of ‘further education’ in doubt by saying that we are sending too many young people to ‘university’. You might say that this isn’t that surprising coming from a Tory, albeit one who was educated in a state comprehensive school.

However, quite a few people have been thinking this for years and some, like me, have been prepared to say it out loud. Does that make us bad people? Have we perhaps lost our way as a nation when it comes to equipping our young people with the knowledge and skills not only to make a success of their lives but also to make a valuable contribution to our nation’s future economic success?

We can’t keep relying on other countries to provide us with qualified people, whether they be doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers and engineers or bricklayers, plumbers and joiners. We have got to start producing more of our own home-grown material and not expect other countries to provide us with the qualified people we undoubtedly need. The same also surely applies in this uncertain age to manufactured goods.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 1 Comment
Advert

New party director of strategy appointed

The Liberal Democrats have appointed Mimi Turner as the Party’s new Director of Strategy, Messaging and Research.

Mimi started her career as a journalist, and has since worked across PR, brand and strategy roles for digital and media organisations.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Every so often, it’s worth having a look at this table…

OK, I know that countries have very different ways of reporting deaths from Covid-19.

But this table, from Worldometer (excluding a couple of micro-states), gives us some idea how the UK is doing in terms of Covid-19 deaths per million of population.

Badly.

We are second in the world for the rate of deaths, after Belgium.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

14 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Higher education announcement lacks substance

Responding to the higher technical education measures announced by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Ministers have extolled Further Education for years, yet chosen to make deep cuts. This announcement risk being no different – strong on rhetoric but low on substance.

Introducing new qualifications will be no use without the funding to back it up. We need to see unprecedented investment in skills for young people coming out of this crisis so that no-one is left behind.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged and | 5 Comments

13 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats table Bill to introduce ‘X’ gender option on passports
  • Government’s destructive immigration plans will cause chaos and confusion
  • “Outrageous” social care exclusion from Government’s new Health and Care Visa

Liberal Democrats table Bill to introduce ‘X’ gender option on passports

Ahead of International Non-Binary People’s Day , Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine will present a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons to require the Government to introduce an ‘X’ gender option on passports.

Christine Jardine’s ‘Non-gender-specific Passports Bill’, supported by Stonewall, would “require the Secretary of State to make non-gender-specific passports available to non-gendered, non-binary and other people who …

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

End of Triple Lock in sight? Why half a million pensioners are not concerned!

In 2011 the coalition government introduced a formula that would ensure that state pensions would henceforth be automatically protected against the vagaries of inflation. They introduced a so-called triple lock which would guarantee that the state pension would be increased every year by the highest of the following:

  • Average earnings
  • Price inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index
  • 2.5%

Successive governments have honoured this formula (which produced an increase of 3.9% for pensioners in April this year) and the conservative manifesto in 2019 promised it would be maintained for the following five years.

But then came the coronavirus!

This has heaped a heavy financial toll …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

A tribute to Cllr Alun Jenkins

How many Liberal Democrat councillors can match the achievement of Councillor Alun Jenkins of Wrexham this week of fifty years continuous service as a councillor in the same ward?

Alun had spent 5 years at University in Bangor and was active in the North Wales’ Liberal Federation. He came to Wrexham in 1967 to teach physics in my old grammar school, Grove Park. Soon after his arrival, he attended a meeting of the Liberal Party in Wrexham, to support Wilf McBriar, a local trade unionist who we remember with great affection for his utter sincerity and commitment.

Alun was given a …

Posted in Wales | Tagged | 1 Comment

Cummings’ little knowledge is a dangerous thing and must be challenged

The government’s narrow base of evidence for its radical agenda combined with ongoing attacks on humanities and the social sciences is a worrying trend. Liberal Democrats can and should oppose it. Much as I was dismayed by the Conservative election win last year I naively thought that having someone like Cummings, interested in ideas and sceptical of sacred cows, might at least create a space for some creative policy thinking. I was even intrigued by the scattergun ‘weirdos and misfits’ job advert. I was wrong.

Cummings’ relationship to knowledge is far from benign. A Twitter take I saw suggests the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

13 July 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Children of parents who lose jobs over summer risk losing free school meals
  • New Govt campaign will fill businesses with horror

Children of parents who lose jobs over summer risk losing free school meals

Children of parents who lose their jobs over the coming weeks risk missing out on free school meals over the summer because of a loophole in the scheme, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has warned.

It comes following a wave of job losses this week, with John Lewis and Boots alone cutting 5,300 jobs.

The current government guidelines say you must apply for a voucher for the Covid …

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

11-12 July 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Govt must improve testing and tracing or they risk a second wave
  • Wasting money on Britain’s borders just more incompetence from Johnson’s Govt

Lib Dems: Govt must improve testing and tracing or they risk a second wave

Responding to Michael Gove’s comments this morning on the public returning to work and whether wearing face coverings should be mandatory in shops, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Face coverings should be worn in enclosed public spaces, and it is important that any government guidance on the issue is clear on exactly when and where they are recommending the public should wear them.

However,

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Leadership election 2020: Watch Ed and Layla at hustings

This post will be regularly updated with links to recordings of  Ed and Layla at the many hustings events that are taking place.

I’ll update it and re-post it whenever there is something new to add.

First up, the very first formal hustings, with the Social Liberal Forum on Saturday 11th July.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

WATCH: Liberal Revues of old

One of the highlights of Conference used to be the Liberal Revue, a tour de force of satire. Some of the old ones have made their way on to YouTube and you can see them here.

I can only remember going to one, back in 1992 in Harrogate. And it’s here. I also took part in a mini version at the 1986 Paisley Conference which, thankfully, was never filmed. However, we did get Bob Maclennan to make fun of Charles Kennedy. It was a special moment.

Enjoy.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Could you be on Federal Appeals Panel?

One of the things Federal Conference needs to do this year is to approve candidates for the Federal Appeals Panel. This is basically the Supreme Court of the Lib Dems, the end point of our internal judicial process.

I don’t remember the recruitment process being quite so open before and it’s great to see it being more widely advertised.

The advert is below and if you feel that this is something you can do, particularly if you are from an under-represented group, please apply:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

SNP divisions on Brexit make independence less likely

It feels as though from the minute that Scotland voted No to independence in 2014 the SNP have been seeking “IndyRef2”.

The independence debate in Scotland isn’t just whether you want to be part of the UK anymore, it is whether Scotland will re-join the EU if they become independent.

Although revoking article 50 was a part of SNP’s 2019 General election manifesto, their party isn’t united on the Brexit front. In fact over a third of SNP voters voted for Brexit. I suppose they are staying true to the party’s isolationism.

The reason I’m mentioning this is it now makes the independence debate more difficult for those on the Yes side due to the fact that some want Scotland to re-join the EU if they became independent and some would rather Scotland become separated from both the UK and the EU.

Whether Scotland would be allowed to re-join the EU is a debatable issue in itself and even if Scotland were to re-join, it wouldn’t be the same relationship as the UK had with the EU prior to Brexit.

The SNP will cause controversy either way they choose to go but are most likely going to re-join the EU(if they can), as over half of their party voted to remain.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Scottish Liberal Democrats trial new virtual conference – 3 top tips from me

I spent most of yesterday glued to various screens. I went to Social Liberal Forum’s leadership hustings in the morning and in the afternoon, we had the Scottish Lib Dems’ virtual special conference. Thanks to Paul McGarry for the screenshots.

Here, Willie Rennie and Alistair Carmichael are interviewed by Environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell, watched by convener Sheila Ritchie:

Chair Jenni Lang watches while LGBT+ Exec member Fraser Graham speaks on the diversity motion:

And here are John Ferry and Katy Gordon putting Layla and Ed through their paces:

We had a couple of items of actual business – a motion on diversity for the elections next year and the report on a reference back from a policy motion, which couldn’t wait any longer. We haven’t had a proper Conference since Spring last year. The election did away with our Autumn Conference last year and the pandemic scuppered Spring Conference in May.

We were the pioneers for the Lib Dems in using the platform Hopin, which the party has acquired for the Federal Conference due to take place from 25-28 September.

Massive thanks are due to Paul McGarry, the Scottish Conference Convener, Megan Wiseman and Paul Moat from Scottish HQ who set everything up. Federal Conference will have people to do that professionally, but they did a great job. Though there were a few testing problems with the tech, they got them sorted and we got all the business done.

The chairs and aides were based in Scottish HQ, all appropriately socially distanced bar the two from the same household.

The agenda provided two debates and two keynote events so there was a good mix. We had one procedural motion, a suspension of standing orders, and an amendment for each motion.

We used a separate voting system called mi-voice, but I think that for Federal Conference we’ll be voting in Hopin. That was a bit glitchy, but we got there.

As we were all attending from our homes, there was bound to be some background noise at some point. Usually it’s my dogs causing various sorts of mayhem, but on this occasion, it was the gorgeous Thor and Bella who did what every self-respecting dog does when a delivery driver turns up at their house.  They didn’t realise that their mum, Cllr Fiona Dryburgh,  was making her debut conference speech.

 

Top Tips

From yesterday’s experience, I’d say that there were three top tips for attendees to the Federal event in the Autumn.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Building Scotland back better

The next Scottish Parliament election on 6 May 2021 will be a major test for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.  With some recent polls suggesting increased support for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom the stakes could not be higher.

We opposed Brexit and oppose Scotland leaving the United Kingdom.  Another independence referendum would be a massive distraction from sorting out the problems Scotland faces.

We must continue to make the passionate, emotional and economical case for a reformed United Kingdom.  People want to vote for success, for hope of a better future and for people who aspire to make a difference.  We need to show how using the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament will enable Scotland to be built back better.

The Scottish Party is about to consult members about the shape of our 2021 manifesto. It is worth setting out a handful of ideas that could, if the Scottish Government devoted its whole attention to them, make Scotland a fairer, greener and more prosperous place to live and do so by giving more power to local communities.

In 2017 the First Minister declared that education was her “top priority”, but Scottish schools have declined in international rankings and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its own targets for the provision of nursery places. The damage done to our education system will reduce the opportunities available to our children and hold our country back.

The Liberal Democrats long campaigned for a penny on Income Tax for education.  We should actually make Education the top priority for government once again.   Education is our way to a high-wage, high-skill economy where inequality becomes largely a thing of the past. It is a scandal that most of Scotland’s secondary schools only allow children to take six subjects at Nat5 level (the equivalent of GSCE in England).  That must change.  

We could give more power to schools and colleges, local school clusters and councils to come up with new ideas that meet local needs and help raise attainment.  In an environment where the UK Government is talking of increased public spending, we could use Barnet consequentials to increase school budgets, recruit more teachers and support staff and make the Pupil Equity Fund (the Scottish equivalent of the Pupil Premium) permanent and more effective. Scotland used to legitimately claim to have one of the best education systems in the world. We need to recover that reputation.

The pandemic has shown how our society pushes stress and risk onto the shoulders of those who find it harder to bear.  The Scottish Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for reform of mental health provision, so it is treated with the same urgency as physical health.  We should make that change.  Holyrood must also make a massive investment in new affordable and social housing to end homelessness and ensure that everyone lives in the home they need.  We should simplify and speed up the programme to insulate every home in Scotland, cut carbon emissions and end fuel poverty.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments

Who gains from Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement?

It is easy to criticise Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement for not doing enough. The Chancellor had a difficult task to assess what size of economic stimulus would be effective.

His main aim was apparently to create jobs for those who had lost them or will be losing them soon. But the Statement.is very disappointing because it doesn’t deal with the realities of the situation for lots of businesses. Social distancing is very likely still to be in place after October, so it just will not be possible for many businesses to provide their services to as many customers as before lockdown.

He should have included a new coronavirus staff retention scheme (turnover based). It should have provided a proportion (say 80%) of the difference between the takings of a business in a month compared to the relevant month in 2019, for businesses that can demonstrate that because of social distancing they can’t deal with the same number of customers.

Rishi Sunak reported that £4.6 billion of consumer debt has been paid off and households have increased their bank deposits by £25.6 billion. This means there is the potential for more than £30 billion (about 1.5% of last year’s GDP) to be spent into the economy when households have confidence restored.

With an economy valued at £2000 billion I believe the maximum economic growth per year with which the UK can normally cope is about £60 billion. Therefore an economic stimulus of £30 billion at this stage is about right.

Instead of allocating up to £9.4 billion for his Job Retention Bonus scheme, I think Rishi Sunak should have used the amount to increase all working-age benefits such as Universal Credit, Family Tax Credit, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance by £20 a week, the same value as his temporary increase of Universal Credit and Family Tax Credit in March. This would have targeted the money to the poorest in society who are most likely to spend it and to the areas where more of these people live. Giving employers £1000 per worker retained is not going to do much to encourage them to retain the most marginal workers, and will do very little if anything to increase demand in the economy.

A lot of the £5.6 billion for infrastructure projects is not new money and includes maintenance projects. £900 million is for shovel-ready projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22. But some of this, maybe the majority, will not be spent until the next financial year. We must hope that most of the £5.6 billion will go into the areas worst affected by job losses.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 54 Comments

Where to see the leadership candidates this weekend

With Layla and Ed duly nominated, they now embark on an eye-watering series of hustings events across the country. There are 4 this weekend.

In just under an hour you can see them at the Social Liberal Forum q and a at 11 am.

At 3:25pm, both candidates will be put through a job interview style interview at the Scottish special conference by former candidate Katy Gordon, who’s a senior HR person and John Ferry, a journalist. I wonder if they’ve been modelling their interviewing style on Claude from The Apprentice.

Tonight at 6pm, it is the South Central hustings.

Tomorrow at 6pm, it’s the Yorkshire and the Humber’s turn to question the candidates.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

10 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live
  • Homeless covid deaths should act as a wake up call
  • Government unwillingness to work with EU is unforgivable

Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live

A cross-party group of MP​s have called on the BBC to adhere to its obligations as a public service broadcaster and make a “firm commitment” to the future of Politics Live amidst reports the show could be axed.

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, who coordinated the cross-party group, warned the BBC that dropping the show would “seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain the consequences of …

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , , , and | Leave a comment

Observations of an expat: Marxist BLM

I was recently sent an article by the American columnist Charles Davenport in which he warned of anti-American Marxist infiltration of Black Lives Matter.

To be fair to Mr Davenport, he prefaced his criticism of BLM with a stiff condemnation of the death of George Floyd and racial discrimination in general.

But then he goes on to quote their leaders out of context and describe Black Lives Matter as

… an anti-American, often violent, collection of Marxists. Their contempt for capitalism is brazen, as is their disdain for law and order.

He is right and wrong. But more importantly, Mr Davenport fails to ask the all-important question: Why?

It is absolutely true that there are Marxists who support BLM. Some of them are in leadership positions. They are in a tiny minority. A recent opinion poll by the Pew Research Centre showed that 67 percent of the American population support Black Lives Matter. There is no way that 67 percent of Americans are Marxists.

Furthermore, there is an ongoing debate within the ivy-clad towers as to whether Marxism is more or less democratic. In fact, when Marx and Engels wrote their “Communist Manifesto” In1848 they implored the workers to revolt in order to establish a more democratic system that represented the rights of the wider working class rather than the narrow establishment of the day. The “dictatorship of the proletariat” was added later and probably owes more to Lenin than Marx.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Free bus passes for all can make financial sense

As we slowly emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions there has been, understandably, a marked increase in road traffic. In particular, Britain’s love affair with the car has largely created the congestion on our roads. Seldom is one able to complete a journey without delays due to accident, road works, or just sheer numbers of vehicles.

To alleviate such congestion, we are encouraged to make more use of public transport. Using buses instead of private cars could significantly reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.

But people are reluctant to give up their cars, Covid fears notwithstanding. It takes some incentive to persuade them to abandon their warm personal transport and take their chances at the local bus stop. In Scotland, congestion charging was rejected by Edinburgh and parking charges are an insufficient deterrent.  And bridge tolls have been banished.

How can we get people to use public transport? A blinding flash of the obvious; in Scotland, where I live, old people and young people use public transport because of the Young Scot card and the senior citizens card.

I don’t use my car anymore to go into town.  It’s madness for me to drive, search for a parking place, pay the fee, and spend much of the time worrying whether I will get a fine before I return. I can travel for free with my card. It is a no-brainer.

What if we extended this “free” benefit to everybody? Scotland has been very keen on other free universal benefits so why not public transport? But how would we pay for it? How much will it cost?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Final nomination totals for leadership candidates


These are the final figures for the nominations for the next Leader of the Liberal Democrats – more details here.

You can see both candidates in action at the many hustings meetings (all via Zoom or YouTube, of course). Some are regional in character, others focus on specific policy areas or strategy.

Everyone who was a party member by yesterday will be able to vote in the election, which will run from 30th July to 26th August, with the results expected to be declared on 27th August.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

9 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Settled Status figures show need for automatic right to stay
  • Publishing Russia report top of the list for intelligence committee
  • Lib Dems: Consequences of Chancellor ignoring our high streets already clear
  • Govt must foot the bill to keep TV licences free for over 75s
  • Ministers must act to ensure public can have confidence in NHS Test and Trace
  • As the country opens up Test and Trace is more important than ever

Settled Status figures show need for automatic right to stay

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need, as new Home Office figures reveal thousands are being refused and millions await a final decision.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics, published this morning, reveal 2,300 people have been refused Settled Status, 1.4 million have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ and 250,000 are still waiting for a decision.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long. They are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They must have the right to stay.

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives promised to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay, but they have broken that promise.

With so many people being refused Settled Status, granted only temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ or still waiting for a decision, it’s clear that the Government’s scheme is anything but automatic.”

And without physical proof of their rights, EU citizens will be at the mercy of the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.

Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 10 Comments

William Wallace writes: Active citizenship

The Financial Times is the most politically liberal national newspaper – sadly, read only by a fraction of those who get the Daily MailMartin Wolf’s ‘Big Read: the New Social Contract’ in the FT of 6th July laid out very clearly the links between active citizenship, stable democracy, and limits to economic inequality:

Citizenship…is the tie that binds people together in a shared endeavour…  In today’s world, citizenship needs to have three aspects: loyalty to democratic political and legal institutions and the values of open debate and tolerance that underpin them; concern for the ability of all fellow citizens to lead a fulfilled life; and the wish to build an economy that allows the citizens and their institutions to flourish.

Liberal Democrats have not been sufficiently vocal about the drift within the UK to passive citizenship and populist central government.  Local democracy has been squeezed; civic education is minimal; political campaigning is increasingly dominated by well-financed professional advisers.

But Wolf is concerned to analyse the economic factors behind the decline in democratic activism and open debate.  He notes the decline of the skilled working class with the collapse of the UK’s industrial base, the importance of education in gaining employment and worthwhile incomes in the post-industrial economy,  and the consequent widening gap between rich and poor.  He also underlines ‘the inordinate growth of finance’, ‘the decline of competition’ and increasing corporate tax avoidance as banks and corporations have consolidated and exploited offshore loopholes.  The result has been ‘a strong sense of unfairness’ in our society (and in other countries), and the exploitation of ‘coalitions of the disaffected’ by populist groups.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Two candidates confirmed for Lib Dem leadership race

Liberal Democrat MPs Ed Davey and Layla Moran will be the two candidates contesting the latest Liberal Democrat leadership contest, the Party has confirmed.

At the close of nominations today both Ed Davey and Layla Moran secured the support required to appear on the ballot.

Voting will open on the 30th July and close on the 26th August, after which the Party will announce the next leader.

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

With two fantastic candidates, I am really excited for the contest for who will lead the Liberal Democrats and champion our vision for an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lib Dem internationalism in practice – a member’s perspective

Liberal Democrats stand for an open society receptive to new ideas, international trade, law-law rather than war-war, cooperation amongst nations, and universal human rights. Whilst proud to be British, we oppose isolationism, nationalism, protectionism and xenophobia for political gain. We recognise the difficulties of Britain’s colonial past and support making amends.

How do sentiments such as these translate into practice, internationally, and how can members become involved?

It’s a question which is often asked in all kinds of meetups.

The coordination of international activity is undertaken by the Federal International Relations Committee, (FIRC) which is one of the party’s governing, constitutional institutions.  FIRC has a sub-committee on EU exit, known by the acronym CEUB.

There is also a foreign policy group in parliament, and a foreign policy adviser to the Party Leader.

Policy Working Groups established by the Federal Policy Committee also frequently consider UK international policy – on economics, defence, Europe, international development and other dimensions. Such work frequently involves presenting policy motions for voting at party conferences.

Cooperation with other liberal-democratic parties in Europe and the rest of the world, including policy coordination, is mostly undertaken via Brussels-based ALDE, and Liberal International.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

Jo Swinson appointed as Director of PN4E

Partners for a New Economy (P4NE) have announced that they have appointed Jo Swinson as their new Director.

P4NE is a philanthropic donor organisation that makes grants to projects that support new economic thinking. As they say:

At P4NE, we fund innovative projects and build communities that bring new thinking and approaches to traditional economics. These “change catalysts” play a pivotal role in helping to repurpose our economic system, and together they’re helping to build a movement for an economic system that’s fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

A theatre of the absurd!

Embed from Getty Images

It was very welcome to see a centre right chancellor acting like a centre left one.” You can tell there are few things to get excited about when you begin to quote…yourself!

This was something I said, and of course it was about Rishi Sunak, in my most recent article. And just when I thought that the operative word for me was acting, as in acting like, what does the chancellor do, he delivers millions to theatres!

So the operative word, in fact, was also centre, as in centre left. This chancellor is the most left wing since Gordon Brown! And just as we  think we are led by a chancer, we see it is the chancellor we must keep our eye on, out for the main chance!

My previous piece was an angry reflection on the awful decision to reinstate tenant evictions and benefit sanctions during the pandemic. But just as the callousness of this emerges from the DWP, so too now does the creative industries support of a billion and a half arrive from the chancellor. “The creative accounting of Rishi Sunak,” might well be the title of this chapter in the story of this man and his government. Creativity beats callousness, but as I said before, also, oh the confusion, of this government! I do prefer confusion, to callousness, but like creativity best of all!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Budget Response: The most vulnerable are being left out in the cold

Back in March, at the very outset of the crisis, the chancellor Rishi Sunak said that: “Now more than at any time in our history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.” That was true then and it is true now. Yet the mini-budget announced yesterday regrettably showed that the government has failed that test. At a time when millions of people across the country are facing the threat of poverty and unemployment, this plan fell far short.

There were some important and welcome measures, in particular, the £1,000 incentive to persuade employers to keep on furloughed staff. But the decision to reduce stamp duty for landlords and second homeowners, for instance, the wrong priority at a time when so many are struggling to get by.

The total projected cost of cutting stamp duty is £3.8 billion. That is money that could have been spent on helping the hundreds of thousands of families being pushed into poverty by this crisis. This measure will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest, while poorer households that rent have been left out in the cold.

While a landlord buying an additional home costing £500,000 or more will now pay £15,000 less in stamp duty, a family of for relying on universal credit will struggle to get by on little more £280 a week. A discounted meal at a restaurant will be little comfort to those struggling to pay their rent each month.

Figures I uncovered yesterday, reported in the Mirror, show the number of families struggling to pay bills has more than doubled since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to almost one in nine. The Government needs to step up and provide extra support to these hard-pressed families, including by scrapping the heartless two-child cap on benefits which is projected to push one million children even deeper into poverty by 2023-24.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

8 July 2020 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Yet more lies from PM as he tries to dodge blame for care homes crisis
  • Davey: We must match the scale of the crisis with the courage to invest

Lib Dems: Yet more lies from PM as he tries to dodge blame for care homes crisis

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments during Prime Minister’s Questions that “no one knew early on in the pandemic that the virus was being passed on asymptomatically”, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Yet again, we are seeing more lies from the Prime Minister. He and his Ministers knew about the asymptomatic transmission of this virus,

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 14th Jul - 5:51pm
    This is useful from Paul. It is of little interest whether countries differ in compiling methods. It is plain. Countries that took this seriously, early,...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 14th Jul - 5:36pm
    @ Joe B Another one at a time question: "Most of the money in the economy is provided by the commercial banking sector" Does the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 14th Jul - 5:31pm
    @ Joe B, Lets just take it one at a time. I think this is the only chance of getting a straight answer. Are you...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 14th Jul - 5:28pm
    @Marco So not that many then. I wonder why? Are the rest of us just nuts? Can’t we just move on?
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 14th Jul - 5:26pm
    @ Joe B, Lets just take it one a time.
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 14th Jul - 5:14pm
    I wish Mimi well in her challenging new role - but perhaps someone could clarify whether she has any relevant experience of political campaigns or...