Author Archives: Alan Muhammed

Taking a sceptical look at TfL’s Uber ban

It’s 2017, and there’s another motion on Uber to be debated at London region conference. Two years ago the conference voiced its opposition to Transport for London’s (TfL’s) rather overbearing plans for private hire regulation, which ranged from banning the visualisation of nearby cars on a mobile app to mandatory 5 minute minimum waiting times (even if a ride was around the corner). The plans were so out there the head of the Competition and Markets Authority took the unusual step of writing an opinion piece in the Financial Times publicly attacking them for proposing ideas that ‘would artificially restrict competition, and curb developments that benefit the paying passenger’.

This time we’re debating TfL’s decision to ban Uber. It’s a little less clearcut. The facts are that TfL has found Uber’s approach to obtaining driver medical certificates, DBS checks, and reporting serious criminal offences (apparently telling TfL rather than the police in the first instance) wanting. There’s also been an inadequate explanation of whether Uber has ever knowingly blocked TfL officers from accessing the Uber app to perform checks. All potentially quite serious issues.

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Liberal Reform announces new Advisory Council and housing focus

Liberal Reform advisory councilAs part of the next stage of our development, Liberal Reform has set up an Advisory Council representing a broad group of campaigners and policy experts to advise the elected Board and help ensure our broad Liberal heritage is represented in the party.

I’m delighted that the following prominent Liberal Democrats have agreed to join the Council, with more to follow: Norman Lamb MP, Jeremy Browne, Baroness Jenny Randerson, David Laws, Miranda Green, Julian Astle and Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

Since Liberal Reform was formed a few years ago it has become clear that there is a real appetite in the party for balanced four-cornered Liberalism — personal, political, social and economic — and that all of these elements are needed for us to rebuild the party as a radical, progressive force.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 27 Comments

Introducing Liberal Reform

New members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.
Liberal Reform

Liberal Reform was founded early in the previous parliament as a grassroots group to focus on “four-cornered liberalism (personal, political, social and economic freedom), arguing for modern, dynamic liberalism that draws on our party’s long heritage arguing for broad individual freedom.

Virtually all Liberals believe in “four-cornered liberalism” but we, more than some others in the party, believe that economic freedom — open markets, free trade and proper competition — has to be a key component of modern liberalism. First, because as liberals we believe in freedom in itself as a force for good. And secondly, because economic liberalism has proven itself in recent history as the only reliable way in which societies can generate the resources needed to provide real individual freedom and security to every citizen.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Opinion – Twitter: powerful campaign tool or waste of effort?

The simple tweet “F*ck” at 10am with the reply “Agreed” last Friday was the only source and all the evidence I required to know that Chris Huhne had been charged. Two words tied emotion with cognition. I followed Nick Clegg’s tax cut speech live through the medium of 140 character paraphrase: a sort of Focus-speak reduction I can only imagine would have the speech-writers crying. The utterance “Borgen – Danish West Wing” was all the persuasion necessary to watch it religiously.

Twitter is free, fast and tragic. And if it wasn’t powerful in facilitating the fall of

Posted in Online politics and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: A degree is no longer about education, it’s about investment

“Government to delude graduates over employment prospects.” As if you would ever read a headline like that. But seeing through government spin concerning how it attempts to deal with the uncertain prospects for 300,000 students graduating this year, you should certainly think it.

The government has apparently been attempting to encourage blue-chip firms to provide low-paid internships, in exchange for CV-padding spiel for graduates, to aid them in an increasingly competitive and internationalised job market.

There are many problems with this. Not least, the implication that UK students have no relevant, valuable work experience upon graduation in the first place. As a recruit to a graduate scheme in a major auditing firm, I know how even reputable, well-managed organisations can initially struggle to find meaningful work for graduates beyond photocopying and filing, despite their glossy recruitment brochures assuring you that you will experience real responsibility from day one.

No doubt the government is used to the creation of bureaucracy and waste through hiring people for the purpose of job creation alone, it therefore seems preposterous that it should attempt to be didactic towards the private sector, which currently for some reason decides to hire people in order to add value and maximise shareholder returns. Admittedly, in terms of public relations, it is cheaper and provides just as much in the way of column inches for a bank to switch from sponsoring a local charity to recruiting more interns, not least because of the free word of mouth it generates.

Yet, it is hardly as though in a time when firms have downsized operations as a consequence of market freefall, that any meaningful work will be delegated to interns anyhow, therefore it is a complete fallacy that this dilemma is being either mitigated or solved.

The economic problem is being ignored: the supply of graduates exceeds the jobs available to them.

So what is the solution?

Posted in News and Op-eds | 1 Comment

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