Author Archives: David Chadwick

Contextualising our policies for our constituents

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It’s easy to criticise our party’s policy-making process and the amount of policy we produce. Such criticism feels a tad unfair. It’s amiss to suggest that members voluntarily producing detailed policy in their spare time prevent our party from winning its target seats. Our candidates ought to help us win by making our policies relevant to their constituents.

Are we missing an overarching theme that ties our policies together? Absolutely. As mentioned in the Thornhill review, our leader’s job is to develop that vision and articulate it. Is now the right time to roll that out? Well Lockdown 3 probably isn’t the best time to try and win the soul of the nation, as the nation is far more interested in Covid.

Until then, candidates should be thinking of ways to promote the policies we have. For example, in response to the Government’s Jobs White Paper Statement, Daisy Cooper asked Gavin Williamson if the government would consider offering a lifetime grant instead of a lifetime loan entitlement. Daisy pointed out that mature students aren’t particularly keen to take on extra debt they’ll be paying off until retirement. She suggested that the government consider the Liberal Democrats’ Skills Wallet instead.

The Skills Wallet is a policy the country sorely needs. Millions of people are out of work or reconsidering their careers. Covid aside, there are two trends reshaping our economy, one is digital transformation – more and more processes are being automated or moving online, leaving entire organisations and job roles redundant. This has been evident for years; think of the disappearance of travel agents.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Can we break open the chumocracy?

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Recent news reports suggesting that the “chumocracy” currently running Britain has enriched its personal contacts during the Covid-pandemic by handing out lucrative procurement contracts worth millions is a tell-tale sign of a self-entitled political elite acting like a law unto itself. This sickening self-aggrandisement is a reflection of a political system that lacks transparency and accountability – issues Liberals have long campaigned on. In the 21st century, why do we still have a political system that permits a small, well-connected elite to act as if the country’s riches are its own? Is it due to our political system or our education system? Are those issues inseparable? Fortunately, our neighbour’s politics show how things can be done differently.

In 2012 I moved to the Netherlands to study. 2012 was a tumultuous year for Dutch politics, the Dutch coalition government had collapsed in April and fresh elections were held just two weeks after I arrived in September. Keen to show a commitment to my new host country, I used to watch the news every night with my Dutch flatmates. I didn’t understand much but learnt enough to match faces with names. This was made easier by the location of my campus, just a stone’s throw away from the Dutch parliament.

It became very clear, very quickly that there was less distance between the Dutch public and their politicians than there is in the U.K. This transparency was characterised by the Binnenhof – a 13th century square that houses the Prime Minister’s office, among other government departments. Like Westminster, the Binnenhof is one of the oldest Parliament buildings still in use. However, unlike Westminster, you can walk right through it. Passers-by, tourists and students would shuttle through, occasionally stopping to gawk at the Ministers arriving in their cars.

It was easy to accidentally bump into Dutch politicians. One lunch break I found myself queuing for a cheese sandwich alongside Diederik Samson, then leader of the Dutch Labour party. The Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, was even easier to track down, he had a favourite café where he could often be found sipping a coffee and reading the newspaper. I think I’m proud of the fact that I was one of the only students on my course not to have asked him for a selfie.

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The NHS Track and Trace app is here to stay, what should Liberals say?

The NHS Track and Trace app is here to stay. Even if Covid-19 were to disappear from the planet tomorrow, there is no turning back from this point; track and trace apps will become a permanent fixture of the health service. And now that we know what an app should be able to do, why would we rely on one for Covid-19? If it helps to save lives, then surely an app could help us to guard against annual winter flu pandemics; what about chickenpox and a whole host of other infectious diseases? Thinking ahead, it is not inconceivable to imagine that we will have all be required to have a permanent mobile app, which can be used to track our exposure to deadly diseases, but also hold our personal medical records.

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Singapore, do the Conservatives know what they are asking for?

Singapore is often depicted as an authoritarian dictatorship come economic paradise. Conservatives like to fantasise about Singapore, seeing it as the prime example of a small state, low-tax, low-regulation economy that they would like to emulate.

But Singapore’s success has been driven by an idea that is antithetical to the Conservative mind: that the state can be as efficient and effective as the market.

Singapore is not the neoliberal paradise it has been heralded as below are four policy areas we could learn from: –

A sovereign wealth fund to accompany fiscal policy:  the Singaporean state asserts its primacy in the island-state’s economy. Compulsory purchase-orders are common; the state frequently buys private turf for the public good. Singapore has built one of the world’s richest sovereign wealth funds, Temasek, which is accountable to Singapore’s Ministry of Finance. It helps to finance the state’s long-term infrastructure projects and, in many ways, resembles the UK’s Green Investment Bank, which the Conservatives sold off in 2015.  

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Leaving London

Britain is one of the most overcentralized countries in the Western world. Our political and financial institutions are concentrated in London, perpetuating regional inequality and overburdening the capital’s underfunded public services.

London might be open but it’s also full: strangers share bedrooms; commuters collapse on crowded trains, gentrification ravages local communities, savings accounts stay empty and the Westminster bubble remains as tight and cosy as ever.

There seems to be no end in sight to London-centrism. Jobs flow to London without serious consideration being paid to whether or not they might be better off elsewhere. For example, in 2015 George Osborne decided …

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