A manifesto for a post-pandemic Britain

A key message of the party’s general election review was listen and act for the average voter, not ourselves. This has long been a basic tenet of local community politics that somehow does not seem to always translate to national campaigns.

Yougov survey last month found strong public support for three economic policies – paying people a universal basic income (UBI) to ensure their financial security, introducing a jobs guarantee to keep employment stable, and bringing in rent controls to limit housing costs. The survey also found that 81% of the public felt the government was not prepared for the Coronavirus crisis and 60% agree Britain is not prepared to deal with climate change.

The survey analyses level of support across party affiliation; Brexit vote; Gender; Age; Social grade and region.

In the theme of delivering a manifesto that is in accord with the desires of the average voter, here are my top five policies.

1. Full employment through a  job guarantee scheme as proposed by the TUC. This scheme would provide a minimum six months job with accredited training, paid at least the real living wage. The scheme should be funded by national government but delivered at regional and local level.

2 A Minimum Income Guarantee was proposed in the policy paper ‘A fairer share for all’ last year. Detailed research has been undertaken on a revenue-neutral Citizens Basic Income by Malcolm Torry. His research encompasses both a Coranavirus Recovery Basic Income and a subsequent sustainable revenue neutral Citizen’s Basic Income

3 Affordable Housing as outlined by Vince Cable in his speech to the Royal Institute of British Architects proposing a land-buying agency to boost housebuilding with powers that would be enabled under amendments to the 1961 Land Compensation Act.

4.  Integrating health and social care as proposed by the Barker report in 2014 incorporating a single, ring-fenced budget for the NHS and social care, with a single commissioner for local services. A new care and support allowance, suggested by the commission, would offer choice and control to people with low to moderate needs while at the highest levels of need the battlelines between who pays for care – the NHS or the local authority – will be removed.

5 Climate Change – Integrating degrowth into our economic policy models as proposed by Dr. Milena Büchs, University of Leeds, U.K., and Prof. Max Koch, Lund University, Sweden. GDP was not designed to assess welfare or the well being of citizens. Modern economies have lost sight of the fact that the standard metric of economic growth, gross domestic product (GDP), merely measures the size of a nation’s economy and doesn’t reflect a nation’s welfare

These are my top five. What would be your pitch to the average voter post-pandemic?

* Joe is a member of Hounslow Liberal Democrats and Chair of ALTER.

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  • Phil Beesley 17th May '20 - 11:25am

    Recent events have shown that society can look after rough sleepers better when it is bothered about the problem. I don’t know whether it is a manifesto commitment given that almost everyone comprehends that we can afford to look after homeless people, basically to do the right thing. Maybe a statement of intent that Lib Dems and other parties expect government to eliminate rough sleeping, and to be a bit more sincere than New Labour’s presentational policies.

    Immediate action is required to help newly homeless people. It’s something which Lib Dem MPs and Councillors might consider.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th May '20 - 11:29am

    It’s good that you have brought so much considered thinking into your suggestions, Joe. But to me you are not hitting quite the right targets. I suggest it is more important to resolve to tackle relative poverty in Britain, which has risen to unacceptable levels already, than to work for a Citizen’s Basic Income. In parallel thinking, I would rather we concentrated on how to revive well-enough paid and lasting employment opportunities, for instance by creation of many new ‘green’ jobs, rather than on the sticking-plaster of the Job Guarantee Scheme.

    I entirely agree with you about housing, though. As you have recently written, poverty is much related to housing costs and, I think you agree, inadequately paid employment. But on climate change, ‘degrowth’ strikes me as an appalling new idea. Let us aim instead for sustainable employment which tackles the climate-change problems, as our policies for more electricity generation through such measures as more wind farms, tidal barrages,and better insulated homes with solar roofs already do.

  • All very nice in an ideal world where the Conservatives don’t have a stonking majority for the next four plus years and the freedom, on the back of the virus, to do whatever they think is necessary for the country… voters are much more interested in some clever ideas that can be effected immediately, something so good that it is compelling and can break through the political noise.

  • The Barker Report on integrating Health and Social Care applies only to England, so I’m afraid Joe’s heading a ‘post pandemic Britain’ is somewhat misleading.

    Here’s the link for Scotland : Health and social care integration – The Scottish Governmentwww.gov.scot › policies › health-and-social-care-integration … “Integration is the most significant change to health and social care services in Scotland since the creation of the NHS in 1948”.

    Interesting (but tragic) events on the Isle of Skye have led to NHS Highland taking over the inadequate privately owned (an offshore multi-national in Jersey and the Caymans) HC-one care home in Portree. It will be interesting what lessons are learned from that.

  • James Fowler 17th May '20 - 1:10pm

    Hi Joe,

    Interesting. I haven’t seen this particular work on de-growth, but a point that never seems to be addressed by proponents is that a stagnant economy intensifies political confrontation because the competition for resources becomes acute without a growth dividend.

    Not sure how these would go down on the doorstep, something to offend everybody I suspect! Nevertheless here are mine:

    1. Merge Income tax and NI at 30% with a £12 000 threshold.
    2. End the 2.5% triple lock. All public sector salaries and and state pension at 1% minimum p/a lock.
    3. Apply capital gains tax to all house sales. Abolish stamp duty.
    4. Re-value and reform council tax bands. Abolish leasehold.

    Small steps perhaps, but big changes over 5-10 years.

  • @ James Fowler “End the 2.5% triple lock. All public sector salaries and and state pension at 1% minimum p/a lock”.

    Here we go again, public sector workers such as nurses, social workers, care workers and bin-men getting bashed again by the dormant Orangeist tendency (which, morality apart, was yet another reason that the Lib Dem vote collapsed five years ago).

    No mention of tackling the off shore tax billionaires, James ?

  • Peter Martin 17th May '20 - 1:38pm

    What does “degrowth” mean? I’d suggest economic contraction.

    Suppose we scaled back GDP, or GDP per person, by 25% or so to take us back to what we had in 1995. Would the economy suddenly start to look like it did then? Unemployment was relatively low, houses were reasonably affordable, inflation wasn’t too high. Most people were probably happier than they are now.

    I’d suggest that would be highly unlikely. That would largely be because the distribution
    of the same amount of income wouldn’t go back to what it was in 1995. It would be highly skewed in favour of those who could, theoretically, afford to lose most. Those who could afford it least would the ones to lose out. We’d have increased levels of poverty, mass unemployment, and riots in the streets.

    It doesn’t sound like much of a vote winner.

  • Laurence Cox 17th May '20 - 1:56pm

    @James Fowler

    1. Merge Income tax and NI at 30% with a £12 000 threshold.

    No real problem, assuming that the increased take from unearned income, previously taxed at 20%, more than offsets the reduction in income tax+NI from 32%.

    2. End the 2.5% triple lock. All public sector salaries and and state pension at 1% minimum p/a lock.

    I would prefer to go back to the old double lock (the greater of inflation and earnings). The latter is important because the poverty line is defined as 60% of median earnings. It was Thatcher breaking that link that pushed many pensioners into poverty because wages rose faster than prices (as they usually do).

    3. Apply capital gains tax to all house sales. Abolish stamp duty.

    No problem as long as you allow for inflation relief on the price; this should be based on generalised inflation, not average house price inflation. This would also be a good way of capturing localised increases in house prices from improved infrastructure.

    4. Re-value and reform council tax bands. Abolish leasehold.

    Reforming Council tax to make it more or less proportional to house price is a must. Abolishing leasehold is a problem, though. There are some cases where you can (and should) do it, like the recent builders’ practice of selling homes leashold rather than freehold; one problem arises with ex-Council properties such as blocks of flats where some are still occupied by Council tenants while other flats have been sold. Without leasehold there is no way for the Council to force owners to pay their share of the cost of maintenance of common parts.

  • Laurence Cox 17th May '20 - 2:21pm

    @Peter Martin

    I agree with you that ‘degrowth’ in the sense of making everyone poorer is not a vote-winner. What we still have to do is for the whole developed world at least to be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (and preferably sooner). So what we need to look at is reducing the dependence of GDP on fossil fuels. Lockdown across the world has only reduced global carbon emissions by 6-7% and we have to make that reduction every year if we are to get to net zero by 2050. The answer has to come from decoupling GDP from fossil fuel usage: aeroplanes, cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships; the entire transport sector has to be decarbonised. Our home heating has to be based on heat pumps rather than gas boilers. We need a massive increase in renewable electricity and in the National Grid capability to support it. All this is going to require big investment, but at least the covid crisis allows politicians to think about making big changes without worrying about the naysayers asking where the money will come from.

  • Duncan Greenland 17th May '20 - 2:31pm

    The detailed proposal for a Citizens Basic Income by Malcolm Torry referred to in the article is the clearest and most detailed exposition that I have seen yet,but still leaves me wondering exactly what problem it is designed to address – and still suffers from the problem that its very universailty requires very substantial increases in general taxation then to remove the benefit of the extra income from the raft of people who clearly do not need it.None of the models of its predicted outcomes can allow for the inevitable changes in behaviour that would result from its introduction,because – as far as I know – it has never really been fully trialled anywhere.
    Maybe the “Manifesto for a post-pandemic Britain” is trying to do too many things at once ? Should we not rather concentrate for now on getting cross-party support for a funding model to allow the integration of health and social care,that the article also calls for – and the urgency of which has sadly been demonstrated ever more clearly as the pandemic continues its deadly path through our care homes.There are models for that integration in other European countries which we can see work much better.The KIng´s Fund BARKER report and the DILNOT report before that show how it could be paid for.What is lacking is the political will to reach a cross-party consensus around which all the major parties could agree to support ahead of the next general election.

  • Simon McGrath 17th May '20 - 2:41pm

    If you want “degrowth” you are going to love the next few months

  • Martin,

    this is an interview with Pavlina Tcherneva who is a leading proponent of the job guarantee https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/5/4/21243725/coronavirus-unemployment-cares-act-federal-job-guarantee-green-new-deal-pavlina-tcherneva It is worth reading.
    On UBI, there are two options. The proposals in the paper by Malcolm Torry for a permanent revenue-neutral Citizens basic income or the idea floated in the LibDem policy paper ‘A fairer share for all’ last year of a minimum income guarantee delivered via the basic allowance for Universal credit. I have discussed this earlier https://www.libdemvoice.org/minimum-income-guarantee-63647.html The basic concept is this. Every benefit claimant or taxpayer would be entitled to either a non-withdrawable basic allowance or tax and national insurance reduction of £4,000 per year (£77 per week). The recent leaked treasury document has noted that the current NI threshold may be increased from £9,500 to £12,500. This is where the £4,000 tax and NI relief comes from. A basic rate taxpayer would get relief for 20% tax and 12% NI on this £12,500 allowance i.e. £4,000. Higher rate taxpayers would no longer get relief at 40% it would be a tax and Ni of the same amount for everyone – £4,000.
    The result is there is a minimum income guarantee of £4,000 for any benefit claimant plus any additional means-tested elements of UC for child benefits, disability, housing benefit etc. Employees and self-employed earning 12,500 or less would pay no tax and NI unless they were in receipt of the UC basic allowance, in which case they would have no tax relief on their income. University students eligible for maintenance loans would receive a £4,000 grant (£77 per week) as would any unemployed school leaver, carer or older person via the benefits system. The amounts payable would be increased each budget to get to a level of £100 per week (£5200 per year) as soon as practical.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th May '20 - 3:08pm

    Peter Martin is absolutely right, I suggest, Joe. While you can suggest some beneficial developments such as employee-owned co-operatives, these do not need to be promoted under this absurd new heading. ‘Degrowth’ is a made-up word with no organic roots. Of course we still need growth, that is development, in social, economic and political life – for example, growth in public wellbeing, growth in people’s happiness. An artificial and essentially meaningless new word, which I do hope will not catch on, could be used to detrimental effect, as Peter rightly shows.

    Even the right-wing thinktanks, today’s Observer reports, agree that austerity should now end. I quote, !” The four thinktanks continued to believe the Treasury should examine tax-cutting measures to promote innovation and entrepreneurial activity”. Surely that is right? We also want businesses and enterprises to grow, to produce jobs, and goods to meet increased demand. And is not this right-wing agreement not to revive austerity really because the Tories want people to have money to spend and be able to pay taxes? I hope that will happen for currently low-paid workers and those we want to be able to see lifted out of poverty. We surely need a revived and flourishing economy, though based on sustainable development !I should have thought that YouGov would find people liked that idea, Joe, and by the way I don’t see you supporting rent controls.

  • Laurence,

    ‘degrowth’ is not about making everyone poorer it is about recognising that well-being is not measured by ever-increasing consumption. It is measured by things like liberty, health and happiness.
    If it is a sure-fire vote-winner you are looking for the easiest way is to copy what demonstrably works. That would be the manifesto that delivered the Tory party a 50 seat majority. As far as I recall that was a one-liner ‘Get Brexit Done’.
    I think we need to ask ourselves how have we got to the point where a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl is able to make a much more intelligent and persuasive contribution to the climate change debate than the leader of the free world, and what can we do about it. It is going to have to be an international solution. Increasing renewable energy sources in the UK, while helpful, will have a minimal impact globally and will no more stop what is coming our way then belatedly halting flights coming from Wuhan did.
    If this pandemic has taught us anything it should be at least two things. Firstly. there are far more important things in life than having the latest model of an I-fone or flying to the other side of the world to lie on a beach. Secondly, the British public is far more sophisticated than political campaigners give them credit for. But then we knew that already didn’t we. You won’t get away with BS. Level with the public in an honest and straightforward way and you might bring them onside. Take them for mugs and it is us who will be left to hold yet another review to figure out where did we go wrong in the election campaign this time.

  • James Fowler 17th May '20 - 5:02pm

    @ David Raw.

    In my view the easiest way to get at Offshore Billionaires is to squeeze their property holdings in the UK – hence my council tax revaluation and CGT on property suggestions.

    Personally, I would love to be able transfer the entire burden of taxation on to land and property and off income.

  • Sue Sutherland 17th May '20 - 5:14pm

    Thank you for this Joe, because, even though we are in for another few years of incompetent government from this lot, we should be ready with proposals for a new way of working when we have the opportunity to put them to the people.
    Whilst I agree that GDP needs to be calculated in a different way that takes account of elements essential to human happiness, I can’t support you in degrowth. What has happened so far is that capitalism has encouraged the accumulation of riches for many and extreme wealth for a few, but measuring well being by how many cars, holidays, yachts you have or own really doesn’t hack it, especially when we treat the planet, not just as a source of cheap materials, but as a sewer and a dustbin. These losses should be brought into the estimation of GDP.
    I think we need green growth rather than what I take degrowth to be. We should use the human need for visible display of power and wealth, which has always been present in human history, to encourage the rapid development of alternative ways of creating goods and services which don’t damage our planet and our health. Government should be providing economic support for current industries finding alternative ways of maintaining our present standards and styles of living. For example the pandemic has shown us that we don’t have to meet face to face to make decisions at meetings of people in different parts of the globe, so we should build on this to cut down travel pollution until a greener way of travelling is adopted, rather than forbidding people from travelling entirely.
    Maybe this approach is what degrowth means, but to me it sounds like returning to the 18th century before industrialisation happened. The climate might improve but I wouldn’t like to lose the standard of living which even the poorest in our society are able to achieve thes days.

  • Katharine,

    degrowth is another name for a sustainable steady-state economy as this article notes https://theconversation.com/life-in-a-degrowth-economy-and-why-you-might-actually-enjoy-it-32224
    “We would need one and a half Earths to sustain the existing economy into the future. Every year this ecological overshoot continues, the foundations of our existence, and that of other species, are undermined.

    At the same time, there are great multitudes around the world who are, by any humane standard, under-consuming, and the humanitarian challenge of eliminating global poverty is likely to increase the burden on ecosystems still further.

    Meanwhile the population is set to hit 11 billion this century. Despite this, the richest nations still seek to grow their economies without apparent limit.

    Like a snake eating its own tail, our growth-orientated civilisation suffers from the delusion that there are no environmental limits to growth. But rethinking growth in an age of limits cannot be avoided. The only question is whether it will be by design or disaster.”
    “The idea of the steady-state economy presents us with an alternative. This term is somewhat misleading, however, because it suggests that we simply need to maintain the size of the existing economy and stop seeking further growth.

    But given the extent of ecological overshoot – and bearing in mind that the poorest nations still need some room to develop their economies and allow the poorest billions to attain a dignified level of existence – the transition will require the richest nations to downscale radically their resource and energy demands.

    This realisation has given rise to calls for economic “degrowth”. To be distinguished from recession, degrowth means a phase of planned and equitable economic contraction in the richest nations, eventually reaching a steady state that operates within Earth’s biophysical limits.”
    At this point, mainstream economists will accuse degrowth advocates of misunderstanding the potential of technology, markets, and efficiency gains to “decouple” economic growth from environmental impact. But there is no misunderstanding here. Everyone knows that we could produce and consume more efficiently than we do today. The problem is that efficiency without sufficiency is lost.

    Despite decades of extraordinary technological advancement and huge efficiency improvements, the energy and resource demands of the global economy are still increasing. This is because within a growth-orientated economy, efficiency gains tend to be reinvested in more consumption and more growth, rather than in reducing impact.

    This is the defining, critical flaw in growth economics: the false assumption that all economies across the globe can continue growing while radically reducing environmental impact to a sustainable level. The extent of decoupling required is simply too great. As we try unsuccessfully to “green” capitalism, we see the face of Gaia vanishing.

    The very lifestyles that were once considered the definition of success are now proving to be our greatest failure. Attempting to universalise affluence would be catastrophic. There is absolutely no way that today’s 7.2 billion people could live the Western way of life, let alone the 11 billion expected in the future. Genuine progress now lies beyond growth. Tinkering around the edges of capitalism will not cut it.

    We need an alternative.”

  • Sue Sutherland,

    the UK ranks around 27th in the world in terms of GDP per capita (measured in terms of purchasing power parity) – a relatively well off nation. We have an average income of about 2.5 times that of a Chinese citizen.
    What is it that makes an hour of British labour worth 2.5 times that of a Chinese worker? If you are living in China the answer is the UK and the West generally had a head start in industrial development. If you are Indian you might add colonisation into the argument. They aim to close that gap. But by so doing, along with SE Asia, and the African continent they will obliterate us all.
    Degrowth doesn’t mean returning to the 18th century before industrialisation happened. It does mean recognising that a worker in China, India, SE Asia or Africa is worth as much as a British, European, or American worker and seeking to live within the ecological limits of the planet that we all depend on.
    I realise these are uncomfortable facts but as the article referenced above notes “…civilisation suffers from the delusion that there are no environmental limits to growth. But rethinking growth in an age of limits cannot be avoided. The only question is whether it will be by design or disaster.”

  • Simon Mcgrath,

    “If you want “degrowth” you are going to love the next few months.” Cleaner air and a lot more people taking to cycling and walking have provided a short respite fro the pollution that most of is live in.
    As this article notes https://hbr.org/2020/02/why-de-growth-shouldnt-scare-businesses people and businesses adapt to circumstances as we have seen.
    “…the degrowth movement has already begun: at a grassroots level, consumer demand is actively being transformed, despite political and corporate reticence. A recent YouGov poll in France highlights that 27% of respondents are seeking to consume less — double the percentage from two years prior. The number of people eating less meat or giving it up altogether has been rising exponentially in recent years, too. Similarly, the movement of Flygskam (literally “flight shaming” in Swedish) has had early successes in reducing pollution: 10 Swedish airports have reported considerable declines in passenger traffic over the past year, which they attribute directly to Flygskam. In the apparel industry, fast fashion is still popular, but garment manufacturers like H&M are preparing for a backlash as consumers voice growing criticism of the ecological impact of clothing. Accounts such as these indicate how consumers in many contexts are increasingly conscious of the negative consequences of consumerism and are seeking to change their habits. We are witnessing the emergence of consumer-driven degrowth.”
    “These stories also indicate how degrowth opens new opportunities: some companies and industries will certainly be disrupted, but others that are sufficiently prepared for such transitions will handily outmaneuver their competitors. For instance, Flygskam has been a boon for train travel, bolstered by a social media movement called Tågskryt (“train brag”). Meanwhile reduced meat consumption has been accompanied by an explosion in meat substitutes that produce one-tenth of the greenhouse gases compared to the real thing. Accordingly, degrowth reshuffles competitive dynamics within and across industries and, despite what many corporate leaders assume, offers new bases for competitive advantage.”

  • Ok, so, if I may summarise, we are going to crash (sorry, degrow) the economy which we have to do to save the planet, but it will be done in an ordered way, so it will be fine. And anyway, you’ve all got too much “stuff”.
    Well that’s the the next election sorted.

  • Phil/Martin,

    It is worth listening to 93 year old David Attenborough in this short 8 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PRJL07-WK0 where he argues that living in a more modest economic way is our last chance, not to save the planet, but to save the human species.
    Back in 2018, the UN climate science panel spelled out how the world could have a reasonable chance of avoiding the most dangerous temperature rises in future.
    It said that emissions of the gases heating the planet – from power stations and factories, vehicles and agriculture – should be almost halved by 2030. Instead the opposite is happening. The release of those gases is still increasing rather than falling and the key gas, carbon dioxide, is now in the atmosphere at a level far above anything experienced in human history.
    This year is seen as a vital opportunity to turn the tide on climate change. The UK is hosting what’s billed as a crucial UN summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow in November. Ahead of that gathering, governments worldwide are coming under pressure to toughen their targets for cutting emissions.
    While most political attention will be on climate change, 2020 is also seen as potentially important for halting the damage human activity is having on ecosystems. Sir David has a blunt explanation for why this matters: “We actually depend upon the natural world for every breath of air we take and every mouthful of food that we eat.”
    World leaders are being invited to the Chinese city of Kunming for a major conference on how to safeguard Nature.
    A landmark report last year warned that as many as one million species of animals, insects and plants are threatened with extinction in the coming decades. A more recent study found that the growth of cities, the clearing of forests for farming and the soaring demand for fish had significantly altered nearly three-quarters of the land and more than two-thirds of the oceans.
    The gathering in Kunming takes place in October, a month before the UN climate summit in Glasgow, confirming this year as crucial for our relations with the planet
    The LibDems need to be involved in these crucial debates if we are to have any relevance to what Sir David describes as “the biggest challenge humankind has ever had to face.”

  • Peter Martin 17th May '20 - 9:27pm

    @ JoeB,

    We’ve suffered from infectious diseases much more in the past than we do now, even with Covid-19 included. The difference is that we just got on with it as best we could previously. No-one suggested putting the country on lock-down when Spanish flu hit. We just took that hit and accepted the 250,000 or so deaths that came with it. This was at a time when the population was smaller and many of those deaths were of young people. Rightly or wrongly, we’re different now.

    No we shouldn’t allow too much global warming but we can’t think shutting down our economy is a solution. In any case the reductions in CO2 emissions that are needed are much greater than what we’ve seen in the last couple of months.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th May '20 - 9:43pm

    Joe, thank you for sharing the interesting article with its admirable sentiments, but I still think it is unfortunate that this new meaningless expression is being used. You could just as well call it Ungrowth, similarly baffling. We actually seem to be talking about consumerism and excessive consumption in the rich world. I suppose it is in that way fortunate that people have been prevented by the lockdown from enjoying themselves by flocking as usual to the shopping arcades and metro centres to buy extra consumer goods and clothes, liking shopping for its own sake. I know the feeling, being an almost weekly customer at the huge Keswick Oxfam shop in happier times! Perhaps that shows a challenge – how to make a more modest way of life appealing to the many people who do have spare money. Perhaps we should revive the William Morris adage: have nothing in your house that is not either beautiful or useful – and add, ‘and is not lasting’.

  • Wellbeing does not mean shutting down or stalling the economy. It focuses on outcomes rather than GDP. Jo Swinson in her speech to Conference last year covered some of the important themes https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/liberal-democrats-jo-swinson-happiness-general-election-bournemouth-a9108836.html

    “Happiness would be at the heart of a Liberal Democrat government agenda – with every spending decision and new law assessed for their impact on public “wellbeing”.
    The party would publish “wellbeing budgets” as part of the chancellor’s annual budget statement, and would create an official wellbeing watchdog to determine how the government’s actions were affecting happiness.
    “…the wellbeing budget would spell out our priorities for public spending on the things that matter most – both right now and for future generations in a “fundamental rethink of the purpose of our economy.”
    “…the current focus on GDP means government is measuring “everything except that which makes life worthwhile”.
    “We have been conditioned to believe that as long as GDP keeps growing, everything is fine. But this ignores the reality behind the numbers. That the social contract is broken – that working hard and playing by the rules is no longer enough to guarantee a better life. That our planet is at breaking point.”
    Aides said that the Office for National Statistics already collects data on life satisfaction, happiness and anxiety under an initiative of the coalition government, but that the current administration is making no use of the figures.
    It was also announced that the party would require companies to report on the climate risk posed by their activities and re-establish the Green Investment Bank created under the coalition and sold off by Theresa May.
    Warning that today’s generation is “the last … that can stop irreversible damage to our environment”, she said that Boris Johnson’s government had done nothing in response to parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency.
    “We’ve set off the fire alarm, and now they are just standing by watching it burn,” she said.

  • I see my comments disappeared, too aggressive in tone? I’m genuinely concerned by this sort of thinking (and Jo’s speech too). It’s all very well meaning but I’ll believe it when I see it that the public will actually vote for something that appears to advocate making them poorer and/or introduce more government interference into their lives.

    The need to make the housing market more accessible is one issue I think everyone can agree on and I’d feel most comfortable saying that is true for many of our target voters.

    Aside from that we simply need to be much better at listening to the general public and then generating a Liberal response to those concerns and actually polling the public on our proposals.

    I hope we don’t go committing to unproven controversial economic policies without seriously making sure they are sensible and well supported.

  • I’ll add that I appreciate the effort people put into these articles and don’t wish to discourage anyone from writing for the site. How to address the climate emergency will be key to our strategic vision for the next generation or so.

  • Andrew T,

    I would agree we need to be much better at listening to the general public and then generating a Liberal response to those concerns. From the Yougov poll linked in the article you can discern the following:

    Job Guarantees – supportive 72% Con Voters 73 Lab 73 Libdem 65
    UBI – supportive 51% Con 39 Lab 65 Libdem 56 strong support from remainers
    Rent Controls – supportive 74% Con 70 Lab 84 Libdem 76
    Not prepared for the
    Coronavirus crisis – 81% agree Con 75 Lab 91 Libdem 92
    Not prepared to deal
    with climate Change – 60% agree Con 39 Lab 81 LibDem 83 There is a big difference here between remain voters (74% agree) and leave voters (47% agree, 41% think the government is prepared).

    We had quite a number of warnings over the years that a contagious virus that jumped from animals to humans was coming and public health officials do not think this is the last one we will see https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/03/the-hot-zone-author-next-pandemic-can-be-worse-than-the-coronavirus.html
    Similarly, we have seen an increasing number of extreme weather events across the world in recent years with once in a century flood events occurring on a regular basis in the UK. If we do not take the steps that campaigners like David Attenborough are urging we have only ourselves to blame. It will be no use shaking your fist at the government when flood waters are pouring into your home or the reservoirs are empty and drinking water has to be rationed.
    This pandemic has shown that communities will come together to deal with a crisis. As Attenborough makes clear, the climate crisis is here and now and it is high time we began to take it seriously before we reach that tipping point from which there is no return.

  • @ Joe How many additional votes of the retired do you think the Lib Dems would win by introducing NIC by the backdoor (a veritable stealth tax Gordon would have been proud of) and getting rid of the triple lock ?

  • Sue Sutherland 18th May '20 - 2:05pm

    I have the same trouble with the word ‘ degrowth ‘ that Katharine has because people aren’t going to understand what it means. I also instinctively dislike the shaming method the Swedes are adopting. It would be much better, as far as I’m concerned, to use the positive method of encouraging conspicuous consumption of green goods and services. This would mean that governments would have to invest more money to help industries make the switch and also to invest in more infrastructure to deal with all our waste and rubbish in a way that is at least neutral for the planet.
    There is also a problem about stopping people from buying cheap clothes. Bangladesh’s economy is greatly dependent on manufacturing clothing and because of the pandemic orders have virtually dried up. This is a country which is already paying for our environmental carelessness because of rising sea levels. Again wouldn’t it be better to help them switch to more environmentally friendly manufacturing rather than stopping demand for their products?
    I think we did good things in Coalition to encourage this approach, so why don’t we build on that as we think of how to save the planet for our children and grandchildren?

  • Peter Hirst 18th May '20 - 2:20pm

    As we transition out of the pandemic, the opportunity for green jobs must be emphasised. A job guarantee scheme would reassure everyone and direct attention to tackling climate change. These jobs could be abroad if circumstances permit and must include training that leads to permanent ones if so desired.

  • David Raw,

    I think that the NHS and social care need to be integrated and it needs to be paid for. This is what good government is about is it not?
    The FT recently outlined some of the tax hikes under consideration by the Treasury
    Income tax
    Income tax accounts for nearly one-quarter of total tax receipts. A single percentage poi increase in the basic rate of income tax from 20 to 21 percent would raise £4.7bn in 2020-21. Increasing the higher rate from 40 to 41 percent would lift the tax take by about £1bn. and an increase in the additional rate band from 45 to 46 percent would raise about £105m.
    National insurance
    The chancellor will consider scrapping the NIC’s upper earnings limit. At present, employees pay 12 percent NICs on the slice of earnings between £9,501, and £50,000, but just 2 percent on income above this level. NICs may be introduced for working people over state pension age, but if the NI allowance is increased to £12,500, most working pensioners will be unaffected and NICs go towards funding the individual’s entitlement to state pensions.
    The chancellor has already flagged up increased NICs for the self-employed to bring it in line with employees and may possibly introduce employers NiC on the self-employed.
    Pensions tax relief for higher earners cost £38bn in 2018-19 making it the most expensive tax break. Restricting tax relief on all pension contributions to the basic rate of 20 percent has previously been estimated to raise more than £10bn per year. With inflation and wage growth likely to remain in the doldrums for some time, the 2.5 percent guarantee in the triple lock figure may have to go— which could produce annual savings of £8bn.
    Inheritance tax has been identified as ripe for reform.
    IHT brings in about £5.4bn a year. The government may look at scrapping it and replacing it with a system where capital transfer tax is levied whenever assets are transferred — either on death or in life. The UK previously had such a system in the 1970s and 1980s.
    It is highly likely the CGT rate will increase — possibly to a flat rate of 28 percent — and the CGT annual exemption could also be abolished for higher and additional rate taxpayers.
    Property taxes
    After pensions tax relief, the Exchequer’s second most costly giveaway is Private Residence Relief which exempts people from paying tax on gains when they sell their main home. The relief was worth £26.7bn in 2018-19. It was strongly rumoured at Philip Hammond’s first Budget that private residence relief could be capped at £225,000 per transaction, meaning those making significant gains would be subject to capital gains tax at 28 per cent.
    Finally, a long-overdue revaluation of council tax bands on the basis of land values is another nettle the government could grasp in an attempt to boost the coffers of overstretched local authorities and there is even the possibility of a wealth tax. Corporation tax will also need to be revisited.

  • Sue Sutherland,

    Kate Raworth shares yours and Katharine’s concern with the use of the word degrowth and prefers ‘Green Growth’ https://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/why-degrowth-has-out-grown-its-own-name-guest-post-by-kate-raworth/. I typically use the word wellbeing for these ideas. The degrowth movement chose the word intentionally and provocatively as a ‘missile word’ to create debate.
    On framing the argument, Raworth writes:
    “The debates currently being had under the banner of degrowth are among the most important economic debates for the 21st century. But most people don’t realize that because the name puts them off. We urgently need to articulate an alternative, positive vision of an economy in a way that is widely engaging. Here’s the best way I have come up with so far to say it:

    “We have an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive.”

    “We need an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it grows.”

    “.. whenever I frame it like this in debates, lots of people nod, and the discussion soon moves on to identifying how we are currently locked into a must-grow economy – through the current design of government, business, finance, and politics – and what it would take to free ourselves from that lock-in so that we can pursue social justice with ecological integrity instead.”
    “We need to reframe this debate in a way that tempts many more people to get involved if we are ever to build the critical mass needed to change the dominant economic narrative.”

  • @Joe Bourke – “I think that the NHS and social care need to be integrated and it needs to be paid for.”
    Need to be very careful about this.
    Yes services need to be joined up better, but having been involved in the third sector where some attempts ar being made, it is clear those coming from the NHS have a medical take on service provision, which is totally at odds with the views of both those with experience in the social sector and service users.
    So yes to joined up, but no to having this lead out of the NHS/Dept. of Health.

  • John Littler 19th May '20 - 12:34pm

    Exceptionally high public support for deep regulation of the housing and jobs markets, closer to what happens in much of Northern Europe, or the introduction of Universal benefits shows a fundamental shift in public opinion which will be generational. It is not going back to grudging acceptance for privatisation, the gig economy, or extreme free markets policy. Still less the hammering of the homeless and those on benefits.

    At the same time, with a fortnight, Johnson’s popularity has gone from nearly three times that of Starmer, to where Starmer outranks Johnson’s by 1%. We have four more years to a general election but Starmer represents a partial rival at the same time as a larger opportunity. Whatever party members might think, the public lumps the opposition together to a large extent and now sees them as being a far more suitable replacement government to the Tories than under the useless beyond belief predecessor, Corbyn
    The LibDems should veer towards a policy agenda that is support to individual rights while being supportive to households and Industry economically, radical on the green transformation needed and differentiating itself from the other parties on the needs of small business. People and businesses will need a lot of support after the virus, brexit and addressing the high tech revolution coming in the next decade.

    This is not the time to blather on about the small state and theoretical laissez faire economics, or trying to sell the gig economy to those poor saps doomed to have to try and live in it.

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