Author Archives: Andrew Chandler

Neglected Assets: A case for a radical rebalancing and reform of our Tax System

In a twist worthy of a Shakespearean comedy, The Financial Times—yes, the very bastion of capitalism—has thrown its weight behind the call to increase taxes on the wealthy. It’s as if Ebenezer Scrooge himself woke up, not just offering Bob Cratchit Christmas off, but also turned his business into a consumer mutual. 

This surprising endorsement underscores a deeper, more troubling reality: the Tories have, over time, alienated their once staunchest supporters — pragmatic economic thinkers and investors. The people who’d toast their morning coffee to the Conservatives, secure in the knowledge that their financial acumen was reflected in sound government policy. 

However, even the FT don’t try to hoodwink their audience against their own interests; understanding the reality of how years of economic stagnation has impacted our country and the wealth imbalance. 

The Tories have managed to estrange themselves so far from these stakeholders, pushing them away with a series of economic imbalances that act more like tragicomedies than strategy. Gone are the days when Tories  were seen as reliable economic stewards. 

The Tories seem intent on peddling narrow, faux-capitalistic dogma than fostering real, sustainable growth. The FT would appear to not be as easily fooled. They understand that the economy needs careful tending, like a well-pruned garden, not the reckless abandonment of letting a child  loose with garden shears. 

The article claims that parties need to the bolder on the economy. Now you might think, bold from FT writers, we’ve all been here before; savage tax cuts, privatising the police force, parading with “We Love Liz” t-shirts and having a national “Margaret Thatcher day”. Except no. Instead, amongst many other arguments, the article states that arguments by the right that better economic rebalancing and higher taxes will impact the economy is just nonsense. They say that due to the state of public finances and a public interest to see robust investment into public services that we need to be honest about increasing taxes if we are going to prevent going through a cliff-edge. They have even argued that due to lack of private investment that it would be in our interest if a major re-balancing of wealth in this country through a series of targeted tax rises on the wealthy be implemented as the government can efficiency invest into the economy. The extreme position the Tories have left us in means we have no major infrastructure going on in the UK – the need is obvious. 

While it stop short of calls for any kind of Wealth Tax or increasing top earners’ tax rates it, the author argues that we should be looking at reforming our overly complex tax system which courts the favour of people with big pockets and good accountants. Amongst its arguments was  using revenue to bring VAT down and combining NI and Income Tax together. 

I have always been a strong advocate of reforming our tax systems.  The current tax system is deeply unfair where wealthy individuals who make their earnings by selling assets pay less tax than someone who is on a paid salary but earning considerably less. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 19 Comments

ITV debate is an insult to democracy

In a recent announcement, Conservative leader Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer have agreed to participate in a head-to-head televised debate on ITV. While it’s always good to be able to get that prime-time real estate during an election campaign, that reaches a wider audience and encourages healthy exercise in democratic engagement, the lack of mention of third-party participation from such a debate is not just an oversight; it is a deliberate slight against democratic diversity and civic participation.

It’s like organizing a dance-off and only inviting two dancers – talk about a political two-step with no room for a …

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

A case for radical pragmatic ideas

During my book-hunting escapades, I stumbled upon Harold MacMillan’s “The Middle Way.” Its weathered cover, nestled among forgotten tomes, bore striking images: Mussolini’s Fascist emblem and the Soviet hammer with sickle; symbols of Europe’s political divide in 1938. Between them, the book’s title, “Middle Way,” almost asking politely: “Do things have to be this way?” The lack of evocative symbol of its own hints at thoughtful ideas contained within its pages. Intrigued, I purchased it, eager to explore its ideas before the rain set in.

If some of your readers are familiar with my previous (and first) blog entry, where I discussed Harold Wilson and his purported working-class persona, you might remember I discussed the stark contrast between his political imagination and his lifestyle reality. Just as Wilson’s persona was far removed from true working-class experiences that that of Del Boy, Harold MacMillan’s aristocratic lifestyle would fit more kindly in Hyacinth Bucket’s aspirations.

Yet, it was the devil in the detail from his book that surprised me: how strikingly compassionate and concerned about the lack of social coalescence.

His book doesn’t present itself as a warning about how too much government would lead to the formation of regimes and their state apparatus. Instead, if anything, he argues how too little government creates conditions that help extremists prey onto an unsuspecting public. In his book he calls it a study rather than a philosophy, “The Middle Way: A Study of The Problems of Economic and Social Progress in a Free and Democratic World”. The word study is rather methodical but doesn’t go too far for being called abstract.

MacMillan’s assertion of the need for a more interventionist government role is equally crucial in a free society. He advocated for pragmatic, evidence-based approaches, clear-sighted good sense; even going so far as to call for nationalization where market failures we’re evident or private interest was incompatible to public interest.

I noticed quickly upon joining as a new member that we LibDems come in all political colours. While critics may argue that this diversity muddies the Party’s image, painting it as too broad a church, wishy-washy, colourless, and just a bit ‘meh’; we centre our values on personal freedom and liberty. I always found the words “freedom” and “liberty” can be misleading sometimes. I often found its use, by extension, as the establishment’s way to excuse our collective responsibility. The freedom of choice is only as convenient if people have the economic resources needed to fully participate. The freedom from: social injustice, poverty, inequality etc. The “freedom to” is needed for a just society, but in cohabitation with the “freedom from” narrative.

So how could we envision this? Here is a list of a few ideas and thought experiments that I had in mind to share in this discussion.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 21 Comments

Labour’s turmoil presents the LibDems as the home for those with centre-left progressive values

Embed from Getty Images

Quoting Labour’s Harold Wilson might stir some feathers to our LibDem audience, but amidst the political whirlwind, it’s fitting to recall our famous working man’s pipe-smoking ex-Prime Minister who seemed to be born into a trench-coat, rather than a birthday suit. His famous quip was “a week is a long time in politics.” And my goodness, what a week it has been.

We witnessed Natalie Elphicke, one of three former Conservatives who have recently joined Labour. Whilst the previous two defections might have surprised some and been welcomed by all within Labour, Elphicke’s departure was one that surprised everyone and was not welcomed by some from within Labour. Honestly, if you had asked me personally, I would have put better bets on her throwing herself into the coast in her constituency in Dover, to help toe a boat of Refugees onto British shores, than this. We are still yet to see the full political fallout of this choice accepted by Labour, given her right-wing views on immigration, culture wars, and, not too long ago, unflattering remarks she made about the Labour leadership. And this is only scratching the surface, given the comments she made about her husband’s victims that got caught up in his sexual misconduct trial and her attempts to influence it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 32 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Ruth Bright
    I liked what Daisy Cooper did about the D-Day/Rishi controversy. Reading from her Grandpa's war diary was high risk because it is so easy to sound mawkish - but...
  • Jenny Barnes
    "Every member will have had many communications by now asking them to prioritise their efforts in a specific seat." No, I haven't had any, let alone many....
  • nvelope2003
    Whatever the reason for the move to the right in some states maybe the British have seen where this leads and will reverse the trend here. One can but hope....
  • expats
    The Conservative manifesto launch was far more like the funeral for an unpopular corpse than a christening... Little about past achievements much on 'future sna...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Simon R: Comments like these are populist right-wing tropes: "The liberal left has become a shill for a failed EU establishment…" ...