TV legend Esther Rantzen backs Luciana Berger

Television presenter Esther Rantzen is throwing her support behind the Lib Dem candidate in Finchley and Golders Green. She said:

As a floating voter myself, I believe we need to support outstanding individuals to ensure we elect the best politicians with integrity and determination.

Although I do not live in her constituency, I am greatly impressed by Luciana’s courage and commitment in standing for election when she has in the past as an MP suffered appalling abuse and prejudice.

She has put herself in the firing line for fearlessly exposing anti-Jewish racism.

It might have been tempting to decide to leave politics when women, especially Jewish women, have come under so much vicious attack. Instead she has decided to fight prejudice and resist hatred and xenophobia.

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How YOU can help the Lib Dems get more MPs this week

There’s just five campaigning days left in the General Election. All of a sudden you seem to go from “Oh yikes, how the hell will I survive 5 weeks of this?” to “Oh Yikes, there’s only five days to do all this?”

What matters to us all on Friday morning is the number of Lib Dem MPs we have. Noble third places count for nothing.

If you are not in one of the seats we hope to win on Thursday, please either get to your nearest one, or make phone calls from your own home into it. The party has set up a nice tool to let you know which one you should go to.

I have always done this. Sometimes, my local party where I live has not been happy about this. I remember the horror in the West Lothian local party in my first election when I moved there when I said I was heading to Edinburgh South. We didn’t win there in that election, but we were a top target and laid the groundwork for wining the Scottish Parliament seat two years later.

When I lived in the East Midlands, I worked in the target seat of Chesterfield which we  won in 2001.

At this stage of the campaign, we need to make sure that the target seats win. What you have done already will have helped you build for next time. And it can be hard, when you have put lots of effort into your local campaign to leave it and head elsewhere.

But if you can be part of winning a brighter prospect, that will also help you in more ways than one. Firstly, a good result for the party helps us all. More MPs = more influence in Parliament. For the country that is a good thing because it gives us the chance to stop Brexit.

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Pest control and security cameras

Here at Lib Dem Voice we receive some intriguing emails, especially those from people wanting to place a post to help their search engine status.  Here are a couple we have received this week.

This is xxx, a writer and a big fan of your blog/website content https://www.libdemvoice.org . I’m reaching out to you because I wish to write an amazing blog post for your readers.

The articles ideas I had:

Pest Control Services
Residential Pest Control Services
Commercial Pest Control Services
Termite Control, Termite Treatment
Ant Control & Extermination

I would appreciate if you could allow me to write a guest post for you!

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That NATO Summit discord, in context

The recent NATO summit in the UK filled the headlines for a few days. What was the summit really all about ?

Arguments about low defence spending amongst some members, about perceived military weakness relative to Russia in the Baltic States, spilled out. There was even an apparent threat from Turkey to delay progress on the Baltic States issue until the rest of NATO accepted that Kurdish defence forces in Syria are ‘terrorists’.

After 70 years of NATO, the irreconcilable discord dominated.

The underlying problem is that members do not agree any more on what exactly NATO is for.   What is worse is that its members are in a kind of gridlock; there is little leadership on mutual interests, lots of taboo topics, and sticking plasters everywhere.

Spending spats are really disagreements about control; some members being reluctant to extend spending until there is more equal status in NATO decision-making.

The history is key.  NATO was never part of any ‘grand plan’ at the outset. Its formation & development after WW2 was something of an accident.  NATO’s origins lie with the 1947 Dunkirk Treaty between France and the UK, and then the Brussels Treaty Organisation (BTO) in 1948 which brought in the Benelux Countries, creating the Western Union (WU) with US support. The WU was precursor both to NATO and to EU defence cooperation.

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The Daily Mail could end Brexit

The recent news that the Daily Mail has bought the i newspaper for £49.6m has caused alarm and dismay to many. Is this the latest example of the extreme right tightening their grip on Britain’s print media, 80% of which they already own? It was, after all, the Mail’s long running, vengeful and ferocious campaign against the EU, under Paul Dacre’s editorship, that set the scene for Brexit.

It may be that Dacre finally overstepped the mark with his “enemies of the people” attack on our top judges, or it may be that his particular brand of burning anger was no longer necessary once the worst of his work was successfully done; at any rate many hoped that his replacement by the more pragmatic Geordie Greig would signal a change of heart at Britain’s most popular daily, and a less toxic approach.

Support for this view comes from a leading article in the British Medical Journal, and raises the interesting possibility that the Mail might one day be in the vanguard of a drive to reverse the worst calamity it ever backed: Brexit. The argument is that if the paper has seen the light and abandoned its long term support of the anti-vaxx lobby, anything is possible.

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Hugh Grant on the frustrating lack of progress in combatting press abuses since the Leveson Inquiry

When I interviewed Hugh Grant on Monday, I started by asking him a couple of questions about his work with the pressure group Hacked Off on press abuse.

Firstly, I asked how he thinks the campaign to curb press abuse issue is looking at the moment. Here’s his reply:

Well, it’s extremely frustrating that we got as far as we did. Hacked Off campaigned for a judicial enquiry. We got it. Leveson’s recommendations at the end of that were very mild really, on the spectrum of what he could have recommended. It was then a struggle to get them into law but finally, as you’ll remember, they were passed by the entire House. There was the Royal Charter, and then there was Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which I assumed, if the whole of Parliament has given it the thumbs up, must become law. It turns out there’s a technical glitch called “commencement”, which the Tory government managed to exploit, and they never pressed that commencement button.

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The Lib Dem pitch to the rural left

Those of us who are left of centre in rural areas are often completely missed from political discourse, despite our long history of distinctive political belief.  Rural people are, obviously, spread out both geographically and economically. We live in smaller communities and have much smaller workplaces. The result of this is a more individualistic yet supportive community where people rely on themselves first and their neighbours second. Liberal philosophy is ideally placed to appeal to these rural values, giving a hand up when needed while getting out the way when not.

How can our liberal message best appeal to the many areas of the country that are represented by the Conservatives yet badly let down by their safe seat apathy?

Our economic message must fit both rural reality and rural values. We must build a framework that allows small and micro businesses to thrive by busting monopolies that are especially damaging in rural areas. Across the country, monopoly power is costing ordinary people billions. The uncompetitiveness of the energy market costs the country £1.7bn but the renewable revolution allows us to rebuild the energy market around communities and their needs, returning the profits of relatively small-scale renewables to the areas in which they are based. A new model of distributive rather than concentrative markets must be built, in which ownership and control are shared widely through mutuals, cooperatives and small enterprise.

We must also build the infrastructure rural areas need to succeed. Our support for universal high-speed broadband as well as better public transport is vital to helping fledgeling businesses to survive, while we also need to be building affordable and social housing to ensure we can halt the rural brain drain. I, myself, am an example of that drain, moving from the village I grew up in to the nearby city of Lincoln for work and to study.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes… Voting tactically to end tactical voting

New polling for the ERS on #DemocracyDay today (Thursday 5th) shows that 80% of people feel they have little or no influence on how decisions are made, and 85% think our political institutions need significant improvement.

We now know that around a huge proportion of Labour supporters are likely to vote tactically (almost all for Liberal Democrat candidates) and a similar number of Liberal Democrats will do likewise (most for Labour candidates). These well-informed citizens are determined not to be cheated again by the absurdly anachronistic and unfair electoral system.

They wouldn’t have to vote tactically if a proportional system operated in this election. If we all enjoyed the STV preferential ballot which the Lab/Lib Dem Coalition introduced for local elections in Scotland almost every vote would count – there 95% of those who vote are represented by councillors they have helped to win. In England and Wales barely half can say that.

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Jo Swinson shines in Andrew Neil interview

Jo Swinson was 3 when Jeremy Corbyn became an MP in 1983. That longer experience did not help him when he faced Andrew Neil last week. He was tin-eared, evasive and failed to connect with the audience.

Boris Johnson can’t even be bothered to show up.

In contrast, Jo was amazing tonight. Neil didn’t hold back, asking her some very tough questions. She answered every single one with clarity, competence and candour. She was very clear that she hadn’t got it right on everything  in the coalition and said the word that politicians so rarely use – sorry.

At the same time, she articulated a proper, liberal, internationalist message, showing how we are open, generous spirited and inclusive.

I have known Jo for long enough to know that she never gives up. Our election campaign has not seen the rise in the polls we deserve, given that we have a manifesto that is more redistributive than Labour’s, is the most economically competent and is much better on social justice than anyone else’s. A lesser leader could have turned their face to the wall. That is not Jo’s style. She and we will keep fighting for every single vote right up until 10pm next Thursday night.

Here are her best bits:

And we can stop Brexit We did it twice and we can do it for good:

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Jo Swinson is impressive under the Andrew Neil grilling

Jo Swinson gave a very impressive performance under the grilling of Andrew Neil this evening on primetime BBC1. (You can view it here).

She was confident, offering contrition on the mistakes of the coalition and outlining the Liberal Democrat positions clearly.

There are plenty of past examples of car crash interviews with Andrew Neil at the helm. Jo did very well under his forensic questioning.

Here’s a selection of tweets reacting to tonight’s programme:

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Dom Joly: I’m backing Lib Dem Max Wilkinson in Cheltenham

Dom Joly, the TV comedian, is throwing his support behind the Lib Dem candidate in Cheltenham, Max Wilkinson:

For so long, due to our ridiculously unfair first-past-the-post electoral system, my vote has meant nothing when cast in a constituency with a massive majority for the sitting MP.

This is why I’m so excited, having just moved to Cheltenham, to feel that my vote really can make a difference in this Lib-Dem/Tory marginal. I am putting all my support behind the Lib-Dem candidate, Max Wilkinson, as I think he will make a superb local MP.

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Traditional Tory voters in London are coming across to the LibDems

Siobhan Benita, our London spokesperson and 2020 mayoral candidate (right), has been campaigning for LibDem candidates all over London. Yesterday she spoke to me about how things are going. This was her assessment:

I think it is going really well. We’re definitely seeing, in some of our key target seats, what we’ve heard here (in City of London and Westminster), which is (that) especially traditional Conservative voters, are (coming across to the LibDems). (This is) not just about Brexit – what we were hearing in Kensington yesterday, for example with Sam’s team, and a lot of the older voters there who have only ever voted Conservative, were saying they don’t associate with Boris Johnson’s Conservative party – they don’t like him – they don’t like the lies he is saying – and for the first time ever – some of them had already postal voted – they’d already given us their vote. So I think we are definitely seeing that across the capital. The nice thing for me, I think as well, is that I know we are obviously strong in parts of London – say south-west London – we have traditionally been strong. I’m definitely getting that sense in the north as well, in Finchley and Golders Green it’s going to be really really exciting there too. So I am hoping that we can – you know – change the map across London and that we’ll be seeing yellow pockets across London, other than the south-west – but I think we’ll grow there as well.

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In pictures: Hugh Grant campaigning for Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger

Here, from Getty Images, is a slideshow of Hugh Grant’s visit to support Chuka Ummuna yesterday, and Luciana Berger on Sunday evening.

Please use the arrows to go back and forwards across the slideshow, and hover your mouse or finger over each photo to read its caption:


Embed from Getty Images

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Hugh Grant on Boris Johnson: Sinister, narcissistic and alarming with potentially no principles at all

Chuka Umunna and Hugh Grant talk with the press yesterday in St John’s Gardens, London SW1

“Could someone interview Hugh Grant tomorrow?” came the call from our esteemed LDV editor Caron, late on Sunday.

Well, one of the advantages of being gloriously retired is that you can often turn on a sixpence. So I jumped at the chance to interview the great man despite basic logistics issues such as “where” and “when” being still unclear. As these basics remained unclear as hours passed I realised I would have to bring forward my powers of initiative and assertiveness.

Fortunately, thanks to the great assistance of our old friend Dr Evan Harris of Hacked Off and Helen Davies, chair of City of London and Westminster Liberal Democrats, yesterday I was introduced to Hugh Grant as a “friend” and got my three minutes with him. You can hear the whole interview here on SoundCloud. (It includes a section about press abuse.)

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1 December 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

  • Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny
  • Lib Dems: Tory no deal Brexit would increase national debt by £220 billion
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show that he despises the poor and vulnerable in our society
  • Swinson outperforms Johnson cheerleaders
  • Farage, Trump and Johnson singing from same misogynistic hymn sheet

Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny

Responding to Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said:

Given Boris Johnson’s dismal performance this morning on Marr it is no wonder he is running scared of Andrew Neil and refusing to be held to account in debates.

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What happens after 12 December?

It is clear that there are two possible broad outcomes to this General Election. The first is an overall Conservative victory. The second is no party with an overall majority, what the world will call a Hung Parliament.

There’s a subset of them both which is a repeat of 2017 where the Tories as largest party can get to an overall lead with the assistance of the DUP. The Irish borders issue (the main single reason we are now having an election yet almost completely absent from the election debate) may make that more difficult for Johnson though we must …

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30 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

  • Ed Davey: Only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put rail fares up now
  • Swinson statement ahead of World AIDS Day

Ed Davey: Only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put rail fares up now

Responding to the news that rail fares will increase by 2.7% for millions of commuters on the 2nd January next year, Liberal Democrats Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

With the railways in crisis and passengers continuing to suffer delays and cancellations on a daily basis, only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put fares up now.

It’s time

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Hugh Grant goes canvassing for Luciana today, Chuka tomorrow

It was great to see actor Hugh Grant out canvassing for Luciana Berger today.

In the first of a series of visits to Lib Dem, Labour and Independent remain supporting candidates who could deny Boris Johnson a majority, he canvassed with Luciana then attended a packed rally.

The best tweet has to come from Gabriel Rozenberg, quoting that great line of Andie McDowell’s from that last scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral – still an incredibly funny film, if you haven’t seen it.

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What World AIDS Day means to me

We’re in the middle of a General Election campaign and you can be forgiven for not being aware of every international day the United Nations celebrates, but I want to draw your attention to one that is special to me: World AIDS Day. It’s today.

I’ve been living with HIV for over 15 years, since June 2004, but I didn’t publicly disclose my status until March 2015 – when I became Britain’s first openly HIV positive candidate. There’s still so much stigma attached to being HIV positive that, despite knowing that I am healthy, undetectable and am able to live my …

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Entitled Isn’t Exceptional: Why Brexit Will Fail, part 4

For readers joining this series late, here are parts one, two and three

So far this week, I’ve discussed the lies and indecision at the heart of Brexit that make it impossible for Johnson to deliver on any of the grand promises he makes.

The biggest lie of all is British Exceptionalism, the lie that we tell ourselves that Britain is somehow special, because of our history, because of the Empire, because of the ubiquity of our language, because of the “special relationship”. The dangerous delusion of “Empire 2.0”.

Johnson in particular, refers to Britain in towering, cod-Churchillian terms, forgetting …

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Business leaders back Lib Dems in open letter

Senior figures from such companies as the New Covent Garden Soup Company, Superdry and Lovefilm are among business leaders who have endorsed the Liberal Democrats in a letter published in the I newspaper. It says:

Business is at the heart of our economy, providing the jobs that millions depend on, the prosperity that pays for public services, and the means by which we bring together our enterprise, ambition and creativity to find new solutions and opportunities.

We also know there is a big task ahead if we are to build a prosperous, fair, inclusive and sustainable economy fit for the 21st century. We must do more to address social and geographical inequalities. We need to act boldly and urgently to tackle the climate emergency. And we must create more quality jobs and investment if the UK is to truly prosper from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Success will require government and business working together in partnership.This means commitment to investing in the education, skills, innovation, infrastructure and regional development critical to building an inclusive, world-class digital and green economy. We need support for small and growing businesses; and commitment to fostering responsibility and sustainability.

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Jo’s best bits from the BBC Debate

Seven leading figures from the various parties competing in the election took part in a televised debate from the National Assembly of Wales.

We are a site made up of Lib Dem supporters. Of course we are going to back our leader. But she surpassed even our expectations.

Her opening statement offered hope, and a country where everyone is valued regardless of religion, who they love or the colour of their skin, working with our closest friends to save the planet, nurturing the bonds in our family of nations, protecting the vulnerable.  A proper liberal vision.

She had the line of the debate.

She didn’t mention that it was a horror show, though…

And here’s her closing statement:

She highlighted why Lib Dem spending plans were not only effective, but added up.

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30 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems respond to Tory announcement on free movement and schools

Responding to the Conservative Party’s claim that continued free movement would lead to 363,000 more children in state schools, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said:

After demonising EU citizens as benefit tourists two days ago, Boris Johnson has now shamefully turned his attack on their children.

This attack is straight out of the Farage-Trump playbook. Not only is it cruel, it’s completely absurd.

The Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee has shown that there is ‘no evidence that migration has reduced school choice or the educational attainment of

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29 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table
  • Chuka Umunna: Boris Johnson continues to let down Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
  • Statement on Lib Dem campaign following London Bridge attack
  • Lib Dems are the only party that can stop the Conservatives

Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table

Responding to this morning’s joint press conference with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart, in which Johnson admitted that no deal preparations will continue, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

Seeing Johnson, Stuart and Gove back on stage together will give people flashbacks to the lies of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. But, after

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Jo Swinson’s statement on the London Bridge attacks: Those who seek to terrorise or divide us will never succeed

Jo has issued the following statement on the London Bridge attacks:

Our emergency services have once again displayed the courage and professionalism that keeps us safe everyday. I am hugely grateful to each and every one of them.

My thoughts are with the people who were injured and all those affected by this appalling display of violence.

Today’s incident reminds us that we can never take our security for granted. We must never forget the vital work that our police and security services do to keep us safe.

Those who seek to terrorise us, divide us or undermine our freedoms will never succeed.

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The Singapore Delusion: Why Brexit Will Fail, part 3

In this third part of the series (part one is here, and part two here), Richard looks at the Singapore-on-Thames concept…

Singapore has seen extraordinary levels of growth over the last decades.

Where Western countries have long-term average growth rates in GDP per capita of around 2% a year, Singapore saw nearly a decade of real gdp growth of 12.7% per year from 1965-1973.

Who could not want that, the average citizen seeing their income double every six years, above inflation. Even the worst off would see substantial increases in income, services, wellbeing…

But the idea that a mature economy like the …

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Conference Early Bird Discount extended until 7th January

Last month, when registration opened for York Conference, I noticed that the discount for booking early finished just one week after the election and before Christmas. I felt that this was unfair:

Now, most of us are knocking ourselves out campaigning for the General Election. We’re out in the cold and dark on a daily basis. Campaigning is not cheap. You have to pay to travel -and many of us are travelling to our nearest target seats. And we’re all getting asked to contribute to local and national campaigns.

This election is an unexpected and added expense just before Christmas. If you add to that the cost of registering for Conference as well, it might mean that some people just can’t afford to go.

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Election Diary 3: Into the final stretch

Harold Wilson stated more than fifty years ago that a week was a long time in politics, and in a general election campaign this is especially true. There are just under two weeks left until the country goes to the polls, and a huge proportion is still up for grabs in this most divisive election. It is also the most important since Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, which fundamentally changed Britain, for better or worse. 

It is therefore little surprise that two main parties have recently shifted their focus going into the final weeks and days of the campaign. Labour, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s increased poll ratings, has not garnered enough support to pose a real threat to Boris Johnson’s plans for majority rule. His party has now focused its attempts on retaining its Northern Leave-voting seats, which could give the Lib Dems an opportunity to heavily target previously Labour-supporting Remainers. The huge spending pledges have not caught the public’s imagination as much as Corbyn and Seumas Milne would have wanted, nor have their plans for large-scale renationalization. Or, for that matter, the party’s disgraceful failure to combat, let alone admit to, its anti-Semitism. 

A new poll, employing a method that accurately predicted the 2017 election result claims that the Lib Dems are on course for thirteen MPs if the election were held today. If true, this would a disastrous. After the recent successes in European and local elections, such a poor showing would mean that the Remain voice would have virtually no voice in Parliament, and would, I fear, mean the final failure of the Remain campaign as a whole. 

The party’s pledge to revoke Article 50 is one of the main reasons for this slump. Speaking to even the most ardent Europhiles, I have found a disquiet about the policy. For Jo Swinson to succeed, she needs to position herself as the moderate, opposing both the extremes of Corbyn and Johnson. Supporting revoking does exactly the opposite. It presents the Liberal Democrats as un-democratic, ignoring the first vote and not allowing even a second. Much anger in the public at this extreme turn has meant that a rethink is needed if the current poll figures are to be reversed. 

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Dan Snow and Deborah Meaden back the Lib Dems

Two well kent faces from the world of television have backed the Liberal Democrats in the General Election.

Historian and broadcaster Dan Snow says:

And Dragon’s Den’s Deborah Meaden is also voting for us this time:

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Observations of an ex pat: The Laffer Curve

It is an economic model called the Laffer Curve and it reeks of common sense and good economic stewardship. It is also being studiously ignored by the Labour and Conservative parties in their headlong race to buy votes with expensive election promises.

The Laffer Curve is basically a bell-shaped curve which starts at zero on the left , rises to an optimum figure in the middle and then drops back down to zero on the far right. The zero on the left is the expected tax revenue that would be raised if the tax rate was zero, which is fairly self-explanatory—no taxes, no revenue.  Halfway up the left side of the curves means taxes are too low and revenue is insufficient.

The zero on the far-right may appear at first glance to be counter-intuitive.  The higher the price (taxes) the higher the revenue. But if we use the shop analogy the fallacy of that argument is exposed.  If a shop charges more money than the customer can afford than they just go elsewhere. In the case of taxes they vote with their feet and move to another country and refuse to invest in an economy which fails to give them a return with the result that the pool of money from which taxes are drawn shrinks.

The key is to find the happy median. This is the highest point on the Laffer Curve where the tax rate—like Goldilocks’s porridge—is neither too high nor too low but set just right so that it draws in the maximum tax revenues.

The Laffer Curve is named after American economist Arthur Laffer from the Chicago School of Economics. Professor Laffer did not invent the theory. But he did popularise it during the Ford, Reagan and Bush Senior Administrations. The theory actually has its antecedents in 14th century Tunisia; was popular in 19th century American economic planning and a cornerstone of the policies of US Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon during the Roaring Twenties.  Even John Maynard Keynes made some admiring references to it, but it was largely forgotten in the 30 years after World War II.

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