A sixth social “evil”?

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William Beveridge listed five ‘great evils’ (Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness) that he thought should be remedied by British society after World War Two, and they were addressed by the post-war government, in what has become known as a social contract between government and people.

In a February article, we suggested that the modern equivalents of the ‘great evils’ are poverty, poor health, lack of skills and training, homelessness and unemployment. These societal ills were in existence before the current health crisis, and should not be allowed to continue after it.  Just as after World War Two there was a national mood expecting change for the better, so a similar mood seems to be arising now. Must we stick to only five ills, because Beveridge did? Should there be a sixth and if so what should it be?

At their Spring Conference in 2018 the Welsh Liberal Democrats identified loneliness as a sixth evil stating “half a million people in Wales reporting feeling lonely”. In the UK there are over 9 million adults who are either always or often lonely (“Trapped in a Bubble” by the Loneliness Action Group led by the British Red Cross and the Co-op).  Loneliness can make a person feel tired, stressed and anxious so they have difficulties with daily routines, engaging socially with others and can make mental and physical problems worse.

For years we have known social care is problematic. Spending on adult social care has fallen by 9.9% between 2009/10 and 2016/2017. Fewer people are eligible for publicly-funded social care in 2018/19 than were in 2010/11, as local authorities have had to prioritise funding for people with the most severe care needs (“What’s the problem with social care, and why do we need to do better?” by four organisations for the BBC). The social care system was set up at the same time as the NHS but unlike health care, which is free at the point of use, social care is means-tested and is a huge source of inequity and unfairness.

Probably, since so many policies are delivered by local authorities, we should consider the restoration of their vital social services over the past decade as another of the great ills. UN Rapporteur Philip Alston in his November 2018 statement points out that the National Audit Office records a 49% cut in real terms in government funding to local authorities between 2010-11 and 2017-18, resulting in a 19% cut in services. More than 500 children’s centres and more than 340 libraries – which had provided vital digital services to people applying for Universal Credit – were closed. Many local governments in England closed or cut their Local Welfare Assistance Schemes which had helped people facing sudden hardships, and are struggling to provide even statutory services. Philip Alston stated “hundreds of vulnerable children are at greater risk of harm due to rapidly deteriorating frontline child protection services”.

We now know we must address the problems of the climate change emergency as one of the major modern ills. The climate change emergency is not a social ill, it is a world disaster predicted to happen, and the UK must play its part in averting this disaster.

The other three ills could be covered by widening our original five social ills. For instance loneliness and social care can be covered by healthcare and the local authorities covered by education and training and fighting poverty. While we are thinking about adding to our original five, we are aware that our list of social ills will lack conviction if too numerous. But we can’t agree on the right number or which social ill, if any, to add. We welcome the opinions of fellow members on this.









* Michael Berwick-Gooding is a Liberal Democrat member in Basingstoke and has held various party positions at local, regional and English Party level. Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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  • Katharine Pindar 29th May '20 - 10:16pm

    What do voters really want from us? How about the truth? – something they are not going to get from this sickly government which has capped its hopeless handling of the health crisis with shifty reading of its own lockdown rules. The truth is, we are not only sick from this virus, we have a sick society. Read Professor Marmot on that, with his bleak finding that our society has stopped improving.

    And it’s not going to get better any time soon, as the Chancellor’s largesse is gradually withdrawn. Poverty, which 14 million of us already exist in, is going to get worse. Unemployment is going to get worse. People will have to fight just to get fair wages for the health workers and other vital workers, just to get decent benefit increases to keep people from going under.

    That’s what this is about, fellow Lib Dems. We hold and must press for our good policies on benefits and on taxation, for instance the Bournemouth-passed motion to have a penny on income tax to pay towards such goods as mental health and social care. I believe we must pledge to see the lost contract between government and our people rebuilt and restored. It means that Lib Dems will campaign to have a healthy society once again. That Lib Dems stand for a healthy society, and we will surely work tirelessly together to achieve it.

  • This article asks the readers of LDV some questions:

    Do our five current proposed social ills cover all the social ills we as a party must have answers for, for the UK population and especially for those voters we need to vote for us (again)?

    Should loneliness be covered when covering the health care social ill?

    Should social care be covered when covering health care or is it so high a priority now that it should be a separate social ill?

    Should the lack of money for local government be a separate social ill, or should local government be allocated resources when resources are allocated to deal with the other social ills?

    Are we right to see the climate change emergency as separate from the social ills we have to address?

  • Richard Underhill 30th May '20 - 8:27am

    “Many people in our constituency and across Britain have made great personal sacrifices on behalf of themselves and people they love, during the weeks of lockdown, and I completely understand the dismay that a Number 10 adviser exercised his own judgement in interpreting the rules in a way that others didn’t think was open to them.
    Let me be clear that I think Mr Cummings made a misjudgement, and I believe that at the outset he should have made a sincere apology and that the Prime Minister should have accepted it – acknowledging publicly that a mistake has been made. We are all human, people can make errors of judgement under stress, and I’m sure the family were genuinely worried about their situation. I remember the anxieties as a young parent when my children were infants if we fell sick when we were hundreds of miles away from any other family members.
    However, it was a misjudgement: Dominic Cummings badly underestimated the strong sense of solidarity we have all have with each other, that has been so striking during this crisis, and the pain of people who have had to endure heartbreaking separation from their own loved ones, sometimes at the end of their lives.
    It is essential that all the attention of the Government must be concentrated on the complex and difficult decisions to be taken during the days and weeks ahead, and Mr Cummings has caused a serious diversion from that. The most important thing in this national emergency is that the right steps are taken to save lives, to care for people’s needs and to give people hope for the future. I’m not convinced that the upheaval resulting from a resignation of the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser would be consistent with that.
    However, I will personally ensure that your views are known to the Prime Minister and I will communicate the depth of offence that these actions have caused.
    I’m sorry that you have had occasion to write to me about such a situation at a time when you will have many difficulties and anxieties of your own and worries for others, but I’m grateful to you for doing so.”

  • Katharine Pindar 30th May '20 - 10:47am

    It was not a serious diversion that Mr Cummings caused, Richard Underhill, written by a suppose your MP in a reply to you. Let me quote back a headline from The Times, summarising the article beneath from their columnist Hugo Rifkind: ‘Can’t Cummings see the damage he’s done?’ It was not a diversion, it was a destruction of trust in the government, once his conduct was upheld by the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary. The result will surely include relaxing of the rules by many people. Will those contacted when the test-and-trace system is actually running really be prepared to self-isolate for fourteen days? Will people returning from the Continent really be prepared for the same? It’s hard to imagine the hard-pressed police force checking on them all and ensuring they do. There could well be a sad rise in infections consequently.

    Trust in this government is not something we naturally shared, we Lib Dems. This is an uncaring crew in charge, and we cannot trust them as the year wears on to put first the needs of the most disadvantaged people in this country, whether those people are newly or were already disadvantaged – poorly paid, living from hand-to-mouth, or formerly more capable of self-provision. If we were really in this together, government and people, we might expect a burst of public spirit to carry us forward, an acceptance of the need to look out for everyone and determination to see it through. But now that faint hope must have gone, even for a majority of people in this country. It will be up to us to demand something universal, not a UBI, but a recognition of the great ills of our society that were here before the virus and have worsened now, and the measures that will be needed urgently to deal with every one of them.

  • Peter Martin 30th May '20 - 11:07am

    @ Michael BG,

    “Are we right to see the climate change emergency as separate from the social ills we have to address?”

    Theoretically we could have close to an idea social system but if the inhabitants burned lots of fossil fuels they would still be emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases to bring about climate change. On the other hand there could be an unjust authoritarian society whose rulers dictated ….

    So, yes, I’d say they probably are separate.

  • Laurence Cox 30th May '20 - 2:40pm

    @Michael BG

    The key test you need to use is: Is the State the right body to deal with this? I would argue that for your five modern social evils it is, but it is not obviously so for loneliness which is much more related to local communities. Early on in the covid epidemic our neighbours from across the road called on us and asked if we needed help with shopping; it is this sort of local community engagement that we need to promote to deal with loneliness, rather than some sort of top-down approach.

  • Peter Martin 30th May '20 - 3:39pm

    @ Katharine @ Michael BG,

    I hadn’t thought of it previously but we aren’t going to help solve loneliness by paying someone a UBI who probably wouldn’t have to do anything more than log on to a website to claim it.

    Most of our friends are people we’ve met at school, uni, sporting teams we’ve played in or work. Just occasionally they’re neighbours, but it’s not uncommon for people to hardly know them. I probably have to hold up my own hands on that.

    So the key is to get people out to do something together and a guaranteed job (the sensible alternative to a UBI) is naturally going to do just that.

  • As the Welsh Liberal Democrats identified loneliness as their sixth social ill, it would be interesting to hear from some Welsh members who can tell us about what policies the Welsh party now has to tackle loneliness.

    Laurence Cox,

    I did think that maybe loneliness was something which is very much local and related to local communities, but it is clear that at that level individuals are not doing enough. So there is a clear need to support people to engage. In 2018 the UK government produced a loneliness strategy for England. There is a plan for 1000 link workers to be employed by GP practices in England by 2024 to work with individual patients to identify local activities for the patient to decide to engage with, which can address their loneliness. Help will be needed to improve access, including transport and support for those organising the activities as well as improving the provision of these activities.

    Peter Martin,

    While having enough money to engage in the activities to fight loneliness is needed, it is not sufficient nor is being in paid employment.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th May '20 - 7:38pm

    Low-income households are being denied extra help by the benefit cap, last Sunday’s Observer found. Their policy editor Michael Savage wrote, ” Tens of thousands of poor households are being denied extra support designed to ease the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, after being hit by the government’s benefit cap. Households already at the cap when the crisis hit have been missing out on £320 a month in additional support. For private renters with children, this is £532 a month.” The report lists numbers of households affected in London, and the Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the cap to be increased during the pandemic.

    Removing the cap is our policy. It would be good to see our leadership candidates pointing out the urgent need for action from the government on this. Poverty remains the first of the five evils that we want action on, and it is this attention to at least stopping it getting worse that we should be asking of our MPs now. I will be contacting Ed Davey, who had encouraged our efforts on the social contract plans, by Twitter and email, and I would ask other members to make similar approaches. This seems like the continuation of this government’s indifference to the poorest and most disadvantaged of our fellow citizens which we have feared would soon reappear.

  • Glad you raised this Katharine. You will no doubt recall Professor Alston criticised it in his UN Report last year. The cap applies to the following benefits :

    • Bereavement Allowance/ Widowed Parent’s/Mother’s Allowance
    • Child Benefit
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Employment and Support Allowance (contributory or income related), except where the Support Component has been awarded
    • Housing Benefit, except where this is paid for kinds of supported
    • Incapacity Benefit
    • Income Support
    • Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based or income-based)
    • Maternity Allowance
    • Severe Disablement Allowance
    • Widow’s Pension
    • Universal Credit,6 except where the award includes the limited
    capability for work-related activity component.

    It’s worth remembering that the cap was announced in the Coalition Autumn Statement in 2010, in part because it was regarded as “an incentive to work”. It was passed with Liberal Democrat votes (including the then Mr Davey), although the Tories reduced the cap further in 2016.

    A good opportunity now for Sir Ed to demonstrate a bit of a Damascene conversion to a more just society.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th May '20 - 11:06pm

    Indeed, David, thank you – I have hopes that Sir Ed may already have come out as a left-leaning Liberal, in view of the letter he wrote to the Chancellor on March 20 asking for a considerable increase in statutory sick pay and all out-of-work benefits.

  • Ed Davey suggested doubling Statutory Sick Pay to £220 a week and increasing out of work benefits “to £150 per week for a single person and £260 per week for couples”. I asked a member of Federal Policy Committee if they had agreed to this and if they would be bringing this to conference to ratify as per the constitution on interim policy on topical issues. He said not. It is a good policy. I wonder if any other members think so and if they would put their names to a motion for the upcoming conference to try to make it policy?

  • Antony Watts 31st May '20 - 8:06am

    Actually we don’t have a single Dom Covid problem. We have two, maybe interconnected problems.

    First, Cummings is not the man we need anywhere near our government, especially so close to our Prime Minister. He has a murky background, I quote, “An unelected, foul-mouth oaf at the heart of Downing Street is dangerous and unacceptable”. Remember this is the man that dragged us out of the EU, a driver of Gove & Johnson in Vote Leave with numerous lies and deceptions – NHS £350 Million… Turkey joining the EU… Take back control from the tyranny of the EU… EU causes all our problems… Analytica data scandal…

    Second, under the influence of Cummings we have little or no forward vision of strategy for UK. This is a failure of our minsters, but for sure encouraged by the views of Cummings who believes that the way to work is not to plan to the benefit of our society, but to take any two sides and views and play the game of “chicken” with them. Generating acrimony as a way to get a result. The problem of this approach is that it does not make any progress, but just reflects which of the tired old ideas can win a beauty contest.

    So? We need a vision of UK’s future. Where are we going? Analysing the position of UK in Europe the EU thinks we should,

    1. Pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving
    – prudent medium-term fiscal positions and
    – ensuring debt sustainability,
    – while enhancing investment.
    Strengthen the resilience of the health system.

    2. Ensure the adequacy and coverage of the social protection system to provide
    – support for all and
    – in particular those most affected by the crisis.

    3. Foster
    – innovation and support human capital development.
    4. Front-load
    – mature public investment projects (hospitals, Climate, EVs) and
    – promote private investment to foster the economic recovery.
    5. Focus investment on
    – the Green and Digital transition, in particular on
    — housing,
    — clean and efficient production and
    — use of energy,
    — sustainable transport infrastructures and
    — high speed broadband networks.

    What do you think? Do we have enough clever people to do this?

  • Katharine Pindar 31st May '20 - 9:52am

    Thanks, Antony, that’s very helpful, to learn of the EU’s comprehensive suggestions for our industrial and economic strategy. There seems much to agree on in it. We know however that the Tory government, with or without the ‘virus’ of Cummings, will slew developments in favour of their own kind and try to ignore the wrongs and ills of our sick society. We have to try to prevent that and to put forward our own firm and progressive strategy. Its aim, as Michael was suggesting to me last night, should be to deal with the things that stop people achieving their full potential.

  • Peter Martin 31st May '20 - 10:11am

    @ Michael BG,

    I had thought of suggesting that anyone who was short of friends should join a political party! But, I’ve probably had a slight net loss, on the political question, since the Brexit issue blew up. I don’t react well to being called a Tory, or worse, and my two word response, or something on similar lines, often puts an end to cordial relationships.

    @ Katharine,

    I haven’t said too much about the Dominic Cummings issue. I suspect most of us have broken the rules to some extent. I’ve driven further than I needed to drive to walk my dog. She doesn’t like travelling by car at all and would much prefer no car journey at all. I also visited my mother in her garden before that was actually allowed. We sat more than two metres apart so I really didn’t see I was putting either of us at any risk.

    So, yes I broke the rules, but I knew full well what they were even though I didn’t have a hand in writing them. Do I deserve some form of punishment too? My wife thinks that I’m taking a soft line on DC because we were both on the same side of the Brexit debate. On the other hand I think she and many others are taking a hard line because they were on different sides.

    So is it really all about Brexit and wanting to extract some revenge?

  • Peter Martin 31st May '20 - 10:33am

    @ Anthony Watts,

    the EU thinks we should:

    “…Pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving….prudent medium-term fiscal positions and ensuring debt sustainability…. while enhancing investment etc etc.”

    Do they, really ? I think we knew that the EU thought that. They are into a lot of neoliberal mumbo-jumbo. I was hoping, though, that they would at least stop thinking that now we’ve left.

    Look, they’ve got plenty of their own problems to solve in connection with the euro. When they’ve done that and the eurozone is working successfully, and as intended, they can perhaps start to pass on their thoughts to us again!

  • Katharine Pindar 31st May '20 - 11:27am

    Peter, thank you for your useful contributions. On Cummings, I do think he broke the guidance rules with impunity (it’s never yet mentioned that he drove to Durham hospital to collect his wife and son when presumably he was still sick, for example), taking outrageous liberties and endangering other people with his journeyings. But I agree with you that slight adjustment of the rules was indeed common sense. I too drove further than the nearest spot to take a walk, and I also have taken tea in my garden with a friend, sitting about a metre apart as the WHO has suggested is enough.

    I meant to answer you earlier on your point that a UBI wouldn’t help people suffering loneliness. Quite right, and neither would it solve poverty. I am fed up with the repeated articles here about this easy catch-all solution which isn’t easy at all when it comes to working out the cost, and was sorry to see Leyla Moran’s endorsement. Solving poverty and the other ills we highlight requires far more wide-ranging and varied solutions, such, as you say, a job guarantee scheme.

    You’re a bit ungracious about the EU as usual, though! I wouldn’t have thought advocating fiscal responsibility necessarily rules out further borrowing for useful investment, in this time of rock-bottom interest rates. It’s interesting to hear about the proposed Franco-German solutions for the EU economy as well.

  • Richard Underhill 31st May '20 - 12:24pm

    Antony Watts 31st May ’20 – 8:06am
    So, should we stop building houses with chimneys?

  • Katharine Pindar 31st May '20 - 2:15pm

    Regarding the Cummings ‘virus’, today’s Observer leads with a story headed, ‘Top scientists: Cummings has broken trust in Covid policy’. It reads. ‘in a letter sent to No.10 on Friday, 26 senior UK academics and health administrators warn that public faith in the government is essential if the Covid crisis is to be tackled effectively. However, they make clear that trust has been “badly damaged by the recently reported actions of Dominic Cummings, including his failure to stand down or resign in the public interest”, and by the prime minister’s refusal to dismiss him. (No comment from me needed on this, I think.)

  • Katharine Pindar 31st May '20 - 4:04pm

    Richard, we should surely be building new houses with solar roofs, where possible, and how about sustainable means of generating electricity being introduced into new estates?

  • Rishi Sunak has announced that the furlough scheme will finish at the end of October and that in August employers will have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions, then 10% of pay from September, rising to 20% in October. This will mean an increase in unemployment. In the USA unemployment has risen to 23.9% making 40.8 million, while in the UK it is only estimated to be 2.1 million. This is because about 8 million workers are being furloughed. The increase in the number unemployed and those on furlough make up over 27% of those working in March.

    Employers are likely to have little alternative but to reduce their work force, because lots of businesses will not recover their turnover either because of continuing social distancing or customers staying at home rather than returning to their previous spending patterns.

    It is possible that the millions made unemployed by the coronavirus will not be able to find employment until social distancing has ended and consumer confidence has returned. The government should start planning for providing jobs for at least some of these people at least from September.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Jun '20 - 10:52am

    Michael is right, unemployment, one of the five great ills, looms large for the autumn, and we should surely be urging the necessity of a Job Guarantee Scheme to be brought in by the government. Can we also foster local enterprises from our local authority strong bases? It will be a time for fresh thinking and investment in job creation, especially in the area of ‘green’ jobs and enterprises fitted to contribute to the necessity of a carbon-free future.

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Jun '20 - 7:15pm

    Regarding the threat of unemployment, I was surprised to read this afternoon (thanks to some research by David Raw) that Liberal William Beveridge, whose 1942 great report on Social Insurance led to the creation of the Welfare State by the post-war Labour government, himself saw full employment as the pivot of the social welfare programme he advocated. In a new report in 1944, entitled ‘Full Employment in a Free Society’, he wrote, strikingly, that it was ‘absurd’ to ‘look to individual employers for maintenance of demand and full employment.’ These things, he continued, must be ‘undertaken by the State, under the supervision and pressure of democracy.’

    Only briefly a Liberal MP after the war, later a peer, this brilliant academic and expert on social insurance would surely be pleased to know we have revived his name now to call for the great ills of our society which equate to his five evils to be identified and campaigned against by our party in a ‘Beveridge-type social contract’.

    It is good too to see an article in Liberator 141 entitled ‘Beveridge rides again’, where author Liz Makinson adheres to the spirit of this in writing, ‘This is our time to step up as a party and offer people a better, healthier and more secure life.’ Liz, if you see this, please join in the current discussion with us and various groups of our party about the dimensions of our proposed new Social Contract and how we can indeed start ‘shouting from the rooftops’ about this expression of our core values and our policies.

  • Chris Perry 2nd Jun '20 - 9:31pm

    The lack of respect for older people as evidenced by Britain’s inadequate pensions and neglected social care system could well be in there as should rising inequality. It is incomprehensible that so many people gave their stamp of approval to ten years of austerity and voted for rising inequality, increasing poverty and the potential breakup of the United Kingdom at the last General Election. What happened to the 48% who wished to remain in the EU and campaigned rigorously to do so? Where did their votes go?

  • Katharine Pindar 2nd Jun '20 - 9:32pm

    Slight correction – apologies – to my details about William Beveridge’s life, above. He was elected as MP for Berwick in October 1944, not AFTER the war as I wrote, succeeding another Liberal, Charles Grey – a young man aged 25, a captain in the Grenadier Guards, who was sadly killed in action in Normandy while commanding a tank. I think I remembered the detail wrongly because I imagined there could not have been a by-election in the war. But there was. Sir William did not distinguish himself in his short time as an MP, but he had had long and distinguished service for our country by then, and will for ever be remembered for his great Report.

  • Katharine,

    Charles Grey was also elected at by-election during the war (August 1941), after the Liberal MP Hugh Seely (who won the seat in 1935) was created Baron Sherwood. Surprisingly, Seely was a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards during the First World War. (Sir Edward Grey was MP for Berwick 1885 to 1916.)

    Chris Perry,

    With regard to our vote. I was surprised to find out how close our total votes were in the May 2019 election for the European Parliament – 3,367,284 and the 2019 general election – 3,696,419 (an increase of only 329,135).

  • Peter Martin 3rd Jun '20 - 8:20am

    @ Michael BG,

    It would be interesting to know how many of the 3.7 million and 3.4 million voters were one and the same. My guess is that many of your voters in the EU elections would have gone back to their original parties for the general election and the greater number of votes you received in the General Election was mainly the result of a much higher turn out, but some would have voted for other parties in the Euro elections.

    So, if I’m right, this means that many Lib Dem voters in the General Election either didn’t consider the Euros important enough to turn out for, or they wouldn’t vote in them on principle, or disagreed with the Party line and voted for a different party.

    So, my guesses are one thing, but it would be interesting to know the answer for sure which can only happen by doing the research.

  • Andrew Tampion 3rd Jun '20 - 8:57am

    Regarding the vote in the EU Elections last year. It’s worth remembering that the franchise is different because EU nationals are allowed to vote in the EU Election but not in General Elections. It’s reasonable to assume that the Liberal Democrats and other pro-remain parties got more EU national voters than the Brexit Party or the Tories in the EU Election but those voters could not vote for us in the General Election even if they had been so inclined

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Jun '20 - 4:48pm

    We Lib Dems love Focuses, and this proposal gives us a real Focus. Reading and learning from comments on several other good threads, I am still looking for how we can offer the voters what they can appreciate from us. It has to be a vision and strategy as Lady Thornhill has asked, but also practical and down to earth.

    I think the Social Contract idea can fulfill both aims. We are saying that there is much wrong with our society – not just that it is suffering from the pandemic, but it is in many ways a sick society. We are offering renewal, and restoration of a healthy society, through this idea. Offer the public something healing and hopeful after this crisis, just as the returning troops after World War Two were offered something healing and hopeful – the Welfare State and the NHS. That’s still central. Now we must tackle poverty and all the accompanying ills, the inadequate treatment of BAME people, the poor pay and status of health and other essential workers, the struggle of young people to find affordable housing, the educational inequalities and the social care inadequacies and underemployment and unemployment. There is very much for us to do, but working with other progressive thinkers, we can bring our sick society back to
    health and wellbeing again.

  • Peter Martin,

    In the Euros we received 19.6% compared to 11.6% in the general election. The normal way we would consider this would be that our vote turned out more than the vote for the Labour and Conservative Parties – differential turnouts I think is the term. However, I agree some of those who voted for us in the Euros would have returned to voting for one of the other main parties, especially as in the vast majority of seats we were a long way from even second place. The number of Liberal Democrat voters who didn’t agree with our May another referendum policy would have been small for the Euros. I think more of our voters would have disagreed with our post-Conference policy of Revoke without another referendum than our May policy (as I did).

    Andrew Tampion,

    The 3,367,284 must include some EU nationals, but when I was canvassing only a very few of those I met were even going to vote in the UK. The vast majority of those I canvassed were not going to vote either in the UK or their home country.

    Chris Perry,

    With regard to inequality which you suggest should be one of our social ills, I would like to point out we have poverty. I think it is more important to raise those living in poverty out of poverty than to help those who are just about managing. However, policies which eradicate relative poverty will also help those living just above the poverty line and even those better off than that. So if we eradicate poverty we will have also reduced inequalities.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Jun '20 - 10:27am

    Chris Perry has raised the great problem of inequality in our society, It has always been easy to associate it with the social ill of poverty, as in a frequent mantra of the Labour leadership, ‘We must fight poverty and inequality.’ I too when studying the Marmot report began to talk of the ills of ‘poverty and health inequality’.

    Chris interestingly brings in the question of inequality of societal respect and attention, as shown in the inadequate pensions paid to older people (I suppose compared with the better pensions in some EU countries), and the neglect of sufficient protection for old people in care homes. We could similarly talk of the inequality of societal respect and attention for BAME people, shown in their disproportionate suffering from the Corona virus.

    Certainly in the Liberal society we all want to bring about, care and attention to everyone in our national community would be increased. Central to the idea of the social contract that Michael and I want to be accepted by our party and by the government is a change of attitude by government to the disadvantaged, and that categorisation is useful because if can cover not only the people in relative poverty, the sick and disabled and everyone struggling, but also the people not sufficiently respected by society, such as those mentioned above, older people and BAME people.

    However, I think in putting forward the five great ills that we suggest must be covered in the new social contract, inequality cannot, finally, be tagged on to poverty (as Michael had also concluded, above). Whether of incomes or of respect, inequality will be one of the ills that Liberal Democrats do instinctively reject, and will hopefully seek to reduce through our campaign for the wellbeing of everyone focused on a new social contract.

  • @ Katharine I’d be more optimistic of your chances of getting the Liberal Democrat Party to embrace your social contract if leading figures in the party even mentioned poverty and inequality.

    I know for fact that one of the leadership candidates hasn’t read the Alston Report – he admitted it when I spoke to him….. and the former parliamentary spokesperson (still in the Commons) proved as elusive as the not so Scarlet Pimpernel when you tried to discuss it with her. Maybe you could try Munira Wilson ?

    Until the party formally ditches neo-liberalism (known as Thatcherism in my younger days) it will continue to be an insignificant influence and not trusted. But, good luck, …. and do keep banging away.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Jun '20 - 3:12pm

    “We lacked an over-arching vision and purpose beyond 2019 and Brexit”, wrote Baroness Thornhill in her tremendous in-depth review of the party’s failure in the December General Election, and in my opinion she never wrote a truer sentence in her review. It has been a theme of members writing in LDV too, so, David – thank you for commenting again here – I do not despair of getting the leadership contenders all to accept Lady Thornhill’s view that we need ‘an over-arching vision and purpose’.

    The difficulty at the moment is that members putting forward six ideas of what they want the leadership contenders to comment on have varied favourites, and do not (naturally enough, given the HQ question) focus on an overall theme and purpose. But the social contract idea can be that theme and purpose. So the six ideas that I shall be asking for the leadership contenders to comment on are, specifically, the five social ills we want dealt with as part of a new Social Contract: poverty, including depletion of local authority services; poor health and social care; better educational provision including skills and training; inadequate provision of affordable homes for all; unemployment and underemployment. The sixth can be the non-social challenge of dealing with climate change, which probably all the candidates will agree on anyway.

    Attentive readers may discern that I have expanded the scope of the five ills in the above paragraph! They are expandable, which is why Michael and I hope there will be much more discussion of them by members. But the five ills we will stick with, because together they form the substance of the new Social Contract which can be the party’s new vision and purpose, and we can ask the leadership contenders to take them up and develop them as they see fit. We hope members may agree that there are no more pressing societal ills that must be dealt with, and that they can be most usefully considered within the overall concept of the proposed new Social Contract.

  • Chris Perry 10th Jun '20 - 1:02pm

    Events of the last week have demonstrated that inequality is far wider than just income and that poverty may well be a product of inequality.

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