New edition of Liberator is out: Peerages, post election scenarios and early intervention

The latest issue of Liberator, the independent radical liberal magazine, is with subscribers.

Live sample contents from Liberator 371 are available online here.

Commentary looks at whether the coalition negotiation team hand-picked by Nick Clegg would have the nous to walk away from a poor deal, or whether its wants a coalition at any price if the numbers are right.

The lead story from Radical Bulletin concerns speculation about other contenders who might challenge Tim Farron’s rather obvious ambition to be the next leader should a vacancy arise.

In the sample feature Road To Recovery, former MP Michael Meadowcroft suggest show the party can recover by developing a ‘politics of values’ and avoiding populism.

Lord Bonkers considers the reburial of Richard III in an extract from his diary.

Other articles not yet online are:

WHAT PRICE A LIB DEM PEERAGE? – Seth Thevoz describes how his academic research has revealed the scale of donations by those nominated for the Lords

IT JUST WON’T ADD UP  – Without at least 50 MPs, the Liberal Democrats will not have the people to staff ministries no matter what coalitions the election result might make possible, says Tony Greaves

ACTING EARLY – Early intervention on education, parenting support or mental health can improve people’s life chances and save public money, says Claire Tyler

TRIBAL LOYALTY – Is Labour really part of any ‘progressive alliance’, wonders David Thorpe

LOST BEFORE IT’S CALLED – Any referendum on European Union membership may be held in a more hostile climate than pro-Europeans like to think, says Graham Watson

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH LONDON? – Why do senior Liberal Democrats ignore the capital city beyond the Palace of Westminster, asks Flick Rea

SOUTH AMERICA’S LOST CORNER – Ever wondered what one of the odd shapes on euro note is? Its French Guiana, and next door is equally little-known Suriname. Jonathan Fryer reports

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This website also contains back numbers (which are free to view), information about Liberator and a sample from the Liberator Songbook.

Subscriptions are £25 a year. The site contains details of how to pay by cheque, bank transfer or standing order. PayPal is not working at present but we hope to restore this.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I recommend this article in particular —

    WHAT PRICE A LIB DEM PEERAGE? – Seth Thevoz describes how his academic research has revealed the scale of donations by those nominated for the Lords

    But the entire issue is more than worth the cover price. Liberator is the Best value for money in the Liberal Democrats.
    Better value than a peerage for example.

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Apr '15 - 3:11pm

    The difference between Liberator and my peerage is that I pay for Liberator!

    Tony Greaves

  • (I tried to download issue 370 but ended up with one from 2001.)

    The article by Michael Meadowcroft was interesting as a critique of targeting. However to rebuild our councillor base we will have to carry on targeting. The interesting question is how to change the aims of the party from winning elections to educating the voter at the national level and for regions to create groups of people to go to all weak local parties or “black holes” to get them to have more than 100 members. Another issue would be who sets out our values and philosophy? In the past we might have been able to agree on Conrad Russell but I don’t know who has replaced him.

  • I stopped paying for Liberator a couple of years back and still receive it!

    I recommend other subscribers channel their subs into their local party’s funds instead as Liberator clearly don’t need them …

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Apr ’15 – 3:11pm
    The difference between Liberator and my peerage is that I pay for Liberator!

    Quite right, Tony.
    And unlike some of those who have come after you, you have the legitimacy of having been elected by the party in accordance with the decisions of the party conference.

  • Caractacus “The Green party requires people to be members for a year before they can stand for election – by the 2016 local elections they will have 45,000 more people eligible to stand. They will be in many places have outpolled us at the General Election. How are we going to cope with this ?”

    1) By pointing out the flaws in their policies
    2) By standing against them rather than giving them a free reign

  • Caracatus 22nd Apr ’15 – 8:23pm
    “……. As we are all told, parties can’t gain members while in Government, which certainly explains the ‘slump’ in SNP membership to four times what it used to be.”

    Yes — another fact which makes the spin look really bizarre.

  • Mark Smulian 23rd Apr '15 - 9:53am

    Dominic – if you tell Liberator who you really are instead of hiding behind a first name we can check if you really ever subscribed in the first place and if, for example, you once took out a standing order but are so rich that you have forgotten to cancel it.

  • Michael BG – agree on rebuilding and targeting. Regional parties should take the lead.

    On philosophy, I hope very few people just agreed with Conrad Russell, or indeed with John Stuart Mill. There must always be debate and questioning. However, the two recent Scottish-based publications, “The Little Yellow Book” and “Unlocking Liberalism” are a good contribution to the debate. I’m working on something myself.

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Apr '15 - 10:27am

    Philosophy, values and campaigning: we could start here :

    Not a surprising source when you check the date, 1908, and understand the radical nature of New Liberalism.

  • “Commentary looks at whether the coalition negotiation team hand-picked by Nick Clegg would have the nous to walk away from a poor deal, or whether its wants a coalition at any price if the numbers are right.”

    Rather naughty & provocative, sure done on purpose, you’ve already made up your minds I think that no matter what Nick or that “hand picked team”(who else should do it??) whatever they do will fail or not be suitable/acceptable in your eyes.
    I get that Liberator will always rally against Nick and the Orange Book wing…..but to basically set them up to fail seems rather short sighted and unfair.
    I do agree with some other points about Peerages and Tribal Loyalty especially though, very glad that point is being discussed.

    I await the vitriol that will come my way……

  • Rabbi Makki,
    Liberator is very good value and for a long time has produced interesting comments which are not readily available. I have read it since long before Nick Clegg became Leader. It uses it’s collective critical brain. I don’t believe everything, as the readers are critical too, but welcome the balance.
    The issue of a Negotiating Team, should one be needed, matters.
    Last time, Andrew Stunnel was part of the team, which baffled the press and was reassuring. That kind of balance might need to be repeated.

  • Sadie Smith
    Agree balance is a good thing and voices from all parts of the party should be heard, although without going in to things again I do feel some people tend to shout down those of us that may not generally agree with them.
    The Nagotiating Team article & questions is important, no doubt, but while not everyone should be from one wing/faction/part of the party the tone that it takes can be a little negative….thats just my viewpoint.
    Balance is good, being pro-active and having tht team in place should it be needed is good, but lets give the team a chance should it need it and be posative that they will always do the best they can not just for the party but for the country.

  • Mark Smulian 23rd Apr '15 - 12:50pm

    Rabih Makki
    I think you have misunderstood the Liberator commentary. It does not argue that a coalition negotiating team should be drawn exclusively, or even mainly, from any one wing of the party.
    It is about whether it is drawn from those who see achieving another coalition as their primary objective, or from those who see this as a process of negotiation that might lead to a coalition if the terms are right, but who would be prepared to say ‘no’ and walk away if they are not – something that would apply to a deal with either the Conservatives or Labour.
    This is how negotiation works. If the larger negotiating party perceives that the smaller one wants an agreement at more or less any cost, the smaller party will get a bad deal. If it thinks it might walk away, the smaller party is rather more in business.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 1:20pm

    Mark: Does this hard-ball theory of negotiation apply only to British domestic politics or also in other contexts? In relation to the EU the Lib Dems tend to take the opposite view: that you should propose the change you want, build allies for it etc – but if you don’t get it you should always back down and accept the existing terms.

    I notice the manifesto takes credit for a £30 billion reduction in the multi-year EU budget, but plenty of europhile politicians and MEPs at the time were dismissive that it would ever be feasible to achieve a real-terms cut, and in particular warned that it wouldn’t be achieved by the tough negotiating stance taken by David Cameron.

    In fairness, Nick Clegg – having originally said, according to the BBC, that there was “absolutely no prospect” of a real-terms cut – was gracious enough to admit an insistent stance had worked. Indeed he reckoned Cameron had played a blinder on the budget negotiations:

    “I want to pay tribute to the prime minister for the hand I think he played very skilfully at the summit to deliver what many people had told us was not possible, which was a squeeze in turn on the EU budget… There might be differences of opinion between the prime minister and myself on Europe, on other issues, but actually on this budget issue, we’ve worked in lock-step.”

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 1:25pm

    @ Mark….thanks after 20 years in various commercial negoatiation I know very well how it works trust me.
    My point was that I agree it should be drawn from all parts of the party….but lets not add pressure or write them off by saying things like do they have the “nouse” that ios unhelpfull and also depends what you see as a good deal or not….depending on what your personal take on things are obviously.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 1:33pm

    Bill – Indeed, compare and contrast the elucidation of liberal political philosophy in that Churchill speech with the turgid soundbites that pass for political ‘messaging’ today…

    “Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. [Loud cheers.] Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. [Cheers.] Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. [Cheers.] Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. [Cheers.] Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.”

  • @Alex Sabine – can I vote for Winston Churchill?

  • matt (Bristol) 23rd Apr '15 - 1:49pm

    Can I point out how many grassroots Liberals (including – but not only – those who defected to Labour after the party began to break up during the Asquith-Lloyd George personality clash) detested Churchill, in particular after WW1 had broken out?

  • @ Simon Banks

    I can understand why we wouldn’t just agree with John Stuart Mill (I believe that Nigel Farage says he agrees with Mill). I wonder what aspects of Liberal values and philosophy you disagree with Conrad Russell about? Those books might be useful but I am not sure if the whole party could unite around them.

  • @matt (Bristol) WW1 brought out the worst in Churchill; WW2 brought out the best.

    “Liberalism attacks monopoly”

    That’s what got the Orange Bookers into trouble 😉

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 3:27pm

    Matt (Bristol)
    Sure, there is much you can criticise in Churchill’s long and circuitous career – not least his decision as Chancellor in 1925 to return sterling to the Gold Standard at its pre-war parity, which prolonged the grinding deflation of the interwar period. But, as TCO suggests, the preservation of the free world dwarfs his misjudgements and human failings. A flawed but brilliant canvas, you might say.

    I highlighted that passage partly because it is a shining example of the quality and clarity of his language: a great piece of rhetoric in the best sense. In my view it also captures the essential spirit of liberalism, even if the finer policy implications will always be a matter for debate and adaptation for each generation.

  • matt (Bristol) 23rd Apr '15 - 4:04pm

    TCO — I’m just saying that Churchill on Liberalism vs Socialism in 1911 needs to be looked at as a moment in context: the old Liberal party was a very broad church, which spent the next decade schisming, and people were scattered to all political corners.

    Churchill in particular moved out of his Liberal allegiance (although arguably continued to articulate some more liberal positions in amongst his Conservatism) and declined to allign himself with any of the Liberal leaders that led the tattered remnants, on precisely this issue – his opposition to ‘Socialism’.

    What I find interesting is that he continued to struggle to accept that many of the ‘Socialists’ on the Labour benches he opposed in the 20,30s, and renewed his attacks on into the later 40s and 50s, were in many cases nothing more than his old ‘radical liberal’ associates pursuing not always entirely dissimilar policies….

    None of this is to say that I don’t admire Churchill, but to say that he is not necessarily the best commentator on what Liberalism is — or even what it was.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Apr '15 - 4:40pm

    matt (Bristol) 23rd Apr ’15 – 4:04pm
    “None of this is to say that I don’t admire Churchill, but to say that he is not necessarily the best commentator on what Liberalism is — or even what it was.”

    Very nicely said and understated Matt.

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Apr '15 - 5:04pm

    Alex Sabine 23rd Apr ’15 – 1:33pm
    “Bill – Indeed, compare and contrast the elucidation of liberal political philosophy in that Churchill speech with the turgid soundbites that pass for political ‘messaging’ today…”

    I certainly agree with your basic point here Alex.

    Too late for him but when even Nick Clegg speaks as a heart felt Liberal what he says is so much more powerful than his and his team’s flaccid equidistant managerial centrist sloganism.

    ‘We’ couldn’t even manage to get the ‘look left, look right’ message in the right order. Looking left first could easily get you run over particularly when the immediate danger is coming from the right … traffic-wise and politically!

  • matt (Bristol) 23rd Apr '15 - 5:36pm

    TCO and Alex S, this is a monumental digression … but … to put a pre-WW1 Churchill into a broader context, can I recommend you look up, compare and contrast the incredibly varied careers of Charles Dillke, ED Morel, Roger Casement, Edward Grey, the Earl of Crewe, Joseph Dodge Weston and William Howell Davies to illustrate just how broad a coalition pre-1914 Liberalism was from the top to the bottom, and how complete the crises of 1914 onwards was for that movement?

    I like what the Liberal party did before the 30s, I would like us to stand in contiuity with it, but it did a great many slightly contradictory things and my continuity may not be your (or Stephen Hesketh’s) continuity …

    … and ultimately, it’s gone. It was well, well dead by the time Jo Grimon came to office.

    My route into these things which has greatly coloured my thinking was the writings of Roy Jenkins, who was of course not a neutral observer.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 5:37pm

    @ matt (Bristol)

    I agree with some of your historical points and I don’t think his most fervent admirers would claim Churchill was a paragon of consistency. Like Keynes, he reserved the right to change his mind about policy questions when, as he saw it, the facts or circumstances changed.

    However I don’t think his criticism of socialism in the postwar years was an example of this inconsistency. Whatever the merits of the Attlee government – and it undoubtedly achieved some great social reforms – its overall agenda hardly embodied the spirit of liberalism that Churchill gave voice to in that speech. Nor should that be remotely surprising, since it was an avowedly socialist government and proud of its socialism.

    So it was quite consistent with his earlier positions for Churchill to oppose that agenda in the 1940s and 1950s and to campaign on a ‘trust the people’ type platform which in effect meant signing up to the welfare state but deregulating the economy and gradually cutting taxes as overstretched defence commitments were scaled back (peace and retrenchment if you want to put it in Liberal terminology).

    Of course this process had started, but only partially and belatedly, with Harold Wilson’s ‘bonfire of controls’ which started to dismantle the apparatus of wartime rationing that – unlike the Germans under Ludwig Erhard – the Labour government had been reluctant to give up since they saw it as assisting their attempt to plan the allocation of resources in the economy.

    If anything, where the 1950s Conservative governments departed from the liberalism that Churchill had once believed in and was still sympathetic to, was that it did not “rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference”. It did not unleash competition in the manner that Erhard did in Germany but allowed private and public monopolies, cosy cartels and restrictive trade practices to continue. In particular it missed the opportunity to expose British industry to the stimulus of foreign competition by removing trade barriers and helping to shape the Common Market from the outset. The result was a rather somnolent version of capitalism which was ill-equipped to address the shortcomings and structural weaknesses of the British economy and its class-bound society.

  • @Alex I never fail to learn something when reading your posts. Thanks.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 6:28pm

    Thank you, TCO. Matt, when I have a bit more time I will follow up your recommended reading to refresh my somewhat hazy knowledge of some of those characters!

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Apr ’15 – 10:27am

    Bill, I am not sure I feel comfortable with this speech.

    Dundee in 1908 was obviously a very different place (the references to women, both from a heckler and from Churchill illustrate how different).

    His reference to “Radical and Liberal” candidates is also revealing. It is usually forgotten that “Radical and Liberal” was often the name of local Liberal Associations and that our General Election candidates stood under that name.

    Churchill’s own background of privilege and his sense of entitlement also show through despite his careful use of rhetoric.

    The use of hearts and brains is certainly more effective than in a more recent speech but I do not think this 1908 speech is as good as some of those from Lloyd George in that pre-firstworldwar era.

  • @ Alex
    I also noticed that part of the Churchill speech.

    “Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Liberalism exalts the man. Liberalism attacks monopoly.”

    I wonder if we could all agree with this?
    The first one should be edited to “raise up those in poverty”.
    I am not sure about “private interest” and “public right” maybe “ensure that private interest always acts for the good of the public”?

    @ matt (Bristol)
    Some Trade Unionist’s disliked Churchill because of his actions when he was Home Secretary before WW1, which have been exaggerated.

    @John Tilley
    I had to remind myself that women didn’t have the vote in parliamentary elections in 1908.

  • @Michael BG “Liberalism attacks monopoly.”

    Given the biggest monopoly in the country is the NHS, I suspect that might be controversial with some people.

  • Bill le Breton 24th Apr '15 - 4:05pm

    Catching up: Matt (Bristol) those who developed Community Politics (the philosophy not the election techniques that also bore that name) developed their ideas from the New Liberalism of Hobhouse, Hobson and others.

    Michael BG, yes, surely, a lot of us could rally round something like these words and ideas and your updates for some of the anachronistic parts work well.

    John, in many ways Churchill was a hack and an boyish enthusiast for new ideas. (Like someone else of redish hue I can think of). I can imagine the effect on his creativity of crossing the floor and finding ‘new friends’ among the New Liberals. He will have brought energy and his way of words to the cause.

    The effect of good thinking and writing is underrated in politics, as Alex, I think is also suggesting. When the Liberal Democrats took control of Liverpool, everyone who did not know the LDs was craving for a vision for their City, and that was produced in words that caught their imagination and gave them a sense of direction and confidence.

    Trade Unionists loathed Churchill because of the austerity (The weilding of the Geddes Axe) which Alex rightly identified as resulting from by his ‘enthusiasm (having crossed the floor and found new friends to spark off) for the Gold Standard.

    Frankly, I’d sooner campaign on Churchill’s 1908 words, than being ‘anchored to the centre ground’, ‘looking left, looking right’ and having as our vision the moderation of others rather than the creation of our own movement.

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 5:32pm

    Please forgive the extended quotation, but It is directly relevant to your question, Michael, about what Churchill meant about reconciling public and private interests, and about the distinction between capital (good) and monopoly (bad). And it is perhaps an even more stirring speech than the one which Bill cited and from which I quoted a passage. Here is Churchill soeaking about the land tax proposals in Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget’ of 1909:

    “A year ago I was fighting an election in Dundee. In the course of that election I attempted to draw a fundamental distinction between the principles of Liberalism and of Socialism, and I said “Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.” And it is from that fundamental distinction that I come directly to the land proposals of the present Budget.

    “It is quite true that the land monopoly is not the only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies; it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly. It is quite true that unearned increments in land are not the only form of unearned or undeserved profit which individuals are able to secure; but it is the principal form of unearned increment, derived from processes, which are not merely not beneficial, but which are positively detrimental to the general public. Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in geographical position – land, I say, differs from all other forms of property in these primary and fundamental conditions.

    “Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of our monopolist opponents to prove that other forms of property and increment are exactly the same and are similar in all respects to the unearned increment in land. They talk to us of the increased profits of a doctor or a lawyer from the growth of population in the towns in which they live. They talk to us of the profits of a railway through a greater degree of wealth and activity in the districts through which it runs. They tell us of the profits which are derived from a rise in stocks and shares, and even of those which are sometimes derived from the sale of pictures and works of art, and they ask us – as if it were their only complaint – “Ought not all these other forms to be taxed too?”

    “But see how misleading and false all these analogies are. The windfalls which people with artistic gifts are able from time to time to derive from the sale of a picture – from a Vandyke or a Holbein – may here and there be very considerable. But pictures do not get in anybody’s way. They do not lay a toll on anybody’s labour; they do not touch enterprise and production at any point; they do not affect any of those creative processes upon which the material well-being of millions depends. And if a rise in stocks and shares confers profits on the fortunate holders far beyond what they expected, or, indeed, deserved, nevertheless, that profit has not been reaped by withholding from the community the land which it needs, but, on the contrary, apart from mere gambling, it has been reaped by supplying industry with the capital without which it could not be carried on.

    “If the railway makes greater profits, it is usually because it carries more goods and more passengers. If a doctor or a lawyer enjoys a better practice, it is because the doctor attends more patients and more exacting patients, and because the lawyer pleads more suits in the courts and more important suits. At every stage the doctor or the lawyer is giving service in return for his fees; and if the service is too poor or the fees are too high, other doctors and other lawyers can come freely into competition. There is constant service, there is constant competition; there is no monopoly, there is no injury to the public interest, there is no impediment to the general progress.

    “Fancy comparing these healthy processes with the enrichment which comes to the landlord who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts or at the centre of one of our great cities, who watches the busy population around him making the city larger, richer, more convenient, more famous every day, and all the while sits still and does nothing! Roads are made, streets are made, railway services are improved, electric light turns night into day, electric trams glide swiftly to and fro, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and at the cost of other people. Many of the most important are effected at the cost of the municipality and of the ratepayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is sensibly enhanced.

    “He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing even to the process from which his own enrichment is derived. If the land were occupied by shops or by dwellings, the municipality at least would secure the rates upon them in aid of the general fund; but the land may be unoccupied, undeveloped, it may be what is called “ripening” – ripening at the expense of the whole city, of the whole country – for the unearned increment of its owner. Roads perhaps have to be diverted to avoid this forbidden area. The merchant going to his office, the artisan going to his work, have to make a detour or pay a tram fare to avoid it. The citizens are losing their chance of developing the land, the city is losing its rates, the State is losing its taxes which would have accrued, if the natural development had taken place – and that share has to be replaced at the expense of the other ratepayers and taxpayers; and the nation as a whole is losing in the competition of the world – the hard and growing competition in the world – both in time and money. And all the while the land monopolist has only to sit still and watch complacently his property multiplying in value, sometimes manifold, without either effort or contribution on his part. And that is justice!”

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 5:45pm

    “…All goes back to the land, and the landowner, who in many cases, in most cases, is a worthy person utterly unconscious of the character of the methods by which he is enriched, is enabled with resistless strength to absorb to himself a share of almost every public and every private benefit, however important or however pitiful those benefits may be.

    “I hope you will understand that when I speak of the land monopolist, I am dealing more with the process than with the individual landowner. I have no wish to hold any class up to public disapprobation. I do not think that the man who makes money by unearned increment in land, is morally a worse man than any one else, who gathers his profit where he finds it, in this hard world under the law and according to common usage. It is not the individual I attack; it is the system. It is not the man who is bad; it is the law which is bad. It is not the man who is blameworthy for doing what the law allows and what other men do; it is the State which would be blameworthy, were it not to endeavour to reform the law and correct the practice. We do not want to punish the landlord. We want to alter the law. Look at our actual proposal.

    “We do not go back on the past. We accept as our basis the value as it stands today. The tax on the increment of land begins by recognising and franking all past increment. We look only to the future; and for the future we say only this: that the community shall be the partner in any further increment above the present value after all the owner’s improvements have been deducted. We say that the State and the municipality should jointly levy a toll upon the future unearned increment of the land.

    “A toll of what? Of the whole? No. Of a half? No. Of a quarter? No. Of a fifth – that is the proposal of the Budget. And that is robbery, that is plunder, that is communism and spoliation, that is the social revolution at last, that is the overturn of civilised society, that is the end of the world foretold in the Apocalypse! Such is the increment tax about which so much chatter and outcry are raised at the present time, and upon which I will say that no more fair, considerate, or salutary proposal for taxation has ever been made in the House of Commons.”

  • @ TCO
    “Given the biggest monopoly in the country is the NHS, I suspect that might be controversial with some people.”

    Please can you tell me which UK laws states that a person can not pay for their health care by going to a private dentist, private doctor or private hospital or any other private health care provider? Also patients are given some choice in the NHS so there is some competition between NHS doctors, dentists and consultants. I would like patients to be given more control and choice and remove the power of GPs, but I do understand that more choice means more spare capacity and increased costs.

    @ Alex Sabine
    It is a shame that the Land Value Tax was removed when the Budget was passed in 1910.

  • Matt (Bristol) 24th Apr '15 - 7:04pm

    IIRR, the reference to a ‘minimum standard’ is taken to indicate that Churchill had been talking to Beatrice and Sydney Webb as well as Lloyd George…

    I’m still not comfortable that election speeches by Churchill although full of lovely language are much more than a justification of the actions he wished to take at that point, rather than a guide to his longterm political philosophy / compass…

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 7:12pm

    Indeed, Michael. And it’s a shame that in subsequent decades reforming parties including the Liberals blurred the distinction between capital and land and supported high taxation of earned (labour) income to boot.

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 7:22pm

    @ matt (Bristol)
    Perhaps not, but that does not weaken or invalidate the arguments contained in these speeches, or the articulation of principles which are still highly relevant today.

  • Matt (Bristol) 24th Apr ’15 – 7:04pm

    I agree, Matt.
    Election speeches by Churchill are not a guide to his longterm political philosophy / compass…

    Although I thnk Bill Le Breton first made reference to the Dundee speech to draw attention to the spirit and thoughts of the time – in Bill’s words
    “….Not a surprising source when you check the date, 1908, and understand the radical nature of New Liberalism.”

    Unfortunately the hero-worship of Churchill in recent decades clouds history. I would suggest that his true colours are shown in his attitude towards the workers during the General Strike, his ultra-monarchist role in the Abdication crisis, as well as his frankly racist attitude to Ghandi and Indian independence.

  • Alex Sabine 25th Apr '15 - 1:28pm

    In fairness, I’d qualify my comment to Michael by recognising that the Liberals did sometimes return to the theme of tax reform at least in the general direction of land/resource taxes and reducing taxes on income, although they tended to fuse the idea of taxes on economic rents with taxes on capital accumulation (savings and investment returns), which missed the whole point Churchill (and land tax proponents like Henry George) made about this important distinction.

    But still, the 1979 Liberal Party manifesto for example noted that “tax avoidance has become our fastest growing industry” as a direct result of the appalling mess the tax system had got to by that time: “penal rates of taxation encourage successful avoidance and evasion; whilst the poor and disadvantaged face a bewildering array of means tests and often fail to receive an adequate income”.

    Interestingly, along with various interesting proposals like reforming Capital Transfer Tax (the precursor to inheritance tax) and introducing a negative income tax to replace means-tested benefits, it proposed both a higher personal allowance and slashing the top rate of income tax from 83% to 50%. The Conservatives were more timid, limiting their commitment to a 60% top rate and sticking with that from 1979 to 1988 (by which time this rate was becoming very high by international standards).

    Not that I’m endorsing the economic agenda of the 1979 Liberal manifesto (which included such items as a statutory prices and incomes policy, which Jo Grimond rightly laid into as both a non-solution to inflation and an infringement of freedom) but it did at least show some imagination in certain respects and some willingness to accept that the tax system was in an unholy mess.

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