Author Archives: Adrian May

Liberal Democrats – the Interdependence Party

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One of the things I like about our Party is our willingness to bounce ideas off one another.

On a Zoom meeting of our local party Exec this evening, once the formal business was out-the-way, we socialised over an optional drink. This was no epic drinking session of lore in the making, to be sung-about to our as-yet unspawned grandchildren, but a glass was nonetheless raised.

The frustrations of campaigning in Scotland, where the national dialogue is no longer Left vs Right, but Unionism vs Nationalism, came to the fore. In this common parlance, Liberalism doesn’t get much of a look-in. You might as well try to talk to people in the street about Confucianism.

Ask people why they voted SNP in their local council election, and they’ll go glassy-eyed and start bandying around words such as ‘Independence’ and ‘Freedom’, meanwhile their bins go unemptied. Even on a national scale, failings in Education and Health get brushed aside for this snake-oil cure for all ills, this panacea that is Independence. How exactly this constitutional change is supposed to improve their lives… well, let’s just say the detail starts to get a bit thin.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Looking over our shoulder?

The statue of Lloyd George in Parliament Square

As a relatively new member I’d like to share an observation. I’ve come to suspect that there’s a propensity for retrospection within our party, a tendency to look back to days gone-by, to times of greater influence and power, to reminisce of beloved leaders of a bygone era.

A sense of shared history can help any group of people to bond, to define the group identity. It can provide a sense of comfort and continuity. It can even provide hope. Yet there’s a subtle difference between that and a common outlook, a shared purpose. One looks back, while the other looks forward.

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Time for a Corporate Responsibility Levy?

We are witnessing a long-term trend for wealth to be within the control of super-rich individuals and large corporations.

I remember when the Liberal Democrat manifesto was an extra 1% on Income Tax, earmarked for education. It then now 1% on Income Tax, earmarked for the NHS. The problem with such a policy is that it requires the voter to behave in an altruistic way. It may make sense, it may be socially responsible, it can be espoused in a self-righteous way, but when a swing voter steps into the booth to put an X in the box, many factors …

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Ode to something less than Joy

There was a time, not so long ago, that any news interview conducted outside the Westminster Parliament would be punctuated by a loud and long cry, “Stoooopppp Breeeexiiiit”.

Brexit was not stopped. December 2019 saw a Tory government returned to power, transformed from a handcuffed minority to a stomping majority. The Liberal Democrats did not benefit in any huge way from the Stop Brexit stance, lost one seat overall, and a certain person did not stand before us as the next Prime Minister.

We could focus on a post-mortem – all the events that led to that outcome – refining …

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Covid-19 … The new Liberal reality

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While we may disagree on the timing of the UK government introducing the Covid-19 lockdown, I hope we can all agree that doing so was a necessary measure.

However, it’s a holding measure, not a solution in itself. It is becoming apparent that the scenario of staying in lockdown till Covid-19 is eradicated, or at least until it’s constrained in known isolated pockets in hospital ITUs, is highly unlikely. With no coordinated international response, even if we were to achieve this in the UK, there would be high probability of infection being reintroduced. If we have similar (or higher) infection rates than other countries, it’s even arguable whether closing the borders would make any significant difference to the situation in the UK.

The lockdown is a rather blunt tool. It’s a list of permissible activities – a straightforward public health message that can be quickly conveyed. It’s not perfect – jogging or cycling can still result in injury, placing additional pressure on A&E. Perspiring and breathing heavily in public parks bring their own risks of transmission. You can still go to the supermarket as often as you like, for as long as you like, wearing no protection, even if you’re in a vulnerable group. So let’s not kid ourselves that this lockdown is perfect. And while we’re at it, let’s not kid ourselves that this lockdown is sustainable indefinitely.

Ideally, all activity would be assessed for its statistical probability of virus transmission, and a highly refined lockdown could then be issued. Unfortunately, this would be an impossibly complex public health message to convey. So what’s the way out of this?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 41 Comments

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