Author Archives: David Morton

Opinion: Don’t Drain Us!

I’m usually the first to moan about the party’s propensity to jump on populist bandwagons. In darker moments I have imagined a press release attacking Galilee’s Labour-controlled council for poor litter collection after the feeding of the five thousand, or poor traffic management at the Sermon on the Mount.

However is there a campaigner alive who can resist a phrase like the “Rain Tax”?

www.dontdrainus.org is a non-partisan campaign site set up to oppose new, deeply unfair surface water charges which may cripple many churches, charities and clubs.

The regulator Ofwat has allowed – or encouraged? – water companies to charge non-profit-making community buildings at the same rates as commercial businesses, often leading to huge increases in bills. As such groups often don’t use a lot of water, or make any profit, this is hardly fair or green taxation.

Without getting into ‘the heavy stuff’, surely a central strand of modern liberalism is that we are more than atomised individuals, but that our common life together is often best mediated by local, voluntary, citizen lead groups rather than the state?

As society begins to warp, stress and strain under the forces of credit cold turkey, what sort of government allows the little guys and girls to pick up the bill? Of course the money for investment in our water infrastructure has to come from somewhere. Of course water companies have big programmes of environmental improvements.

However there are three reasons why for many groups the “Rain Tax” is part of a perfect storm.

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Opinion: Do the Lib Dems need a gym membership as our New Year’s resolution?

When I sit down and draw up my New Year Resolutions I always think of St Augustine and his prayer “Oh Lord make me Chaste, but not yet”. Resolutions can be affirmative but more often than not we use them to try and break long term habits we don’t like. Even if we don’t last much past January 10th.

As Britain is awash with new gym memberships, nicotine patches and soon abandoned Diets over the next few weeks, are there any long term bad habits the Liberal Democrats could do with breaking? Here are my five suggestions for a fitter, leaner 2008 for the party. However I suspect some are as unlikely as me giving up chips.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

Opinion: We don’t do God?

As millions of Britons make their annual visit to church and we learn that our new leader, Nick Clegg, “Doesn’t do God” (so to speak), is it time for the Liberal Democrats to rethink their relationship with faith communities?

Liberalism and religion have not always been happy bedfellows. However, even as Richard Dawkins tops the best-seller lists, and we unwrap our gifted George Bush ‘countdown calendars’ this Christmas, I believe we should re-think and embrace our churches, mosques and temples as allies in the liberal cause, albeit for rather different reasons than we usually do. Before I suggest three reasons for this, let’s consider what use our campaigning makes of faith communities at the moment. It’s not always very liberal…

Posted in Op-eds | 39 Comments

Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days? #3

In less than a week, the Lib Dems will have a new leader – either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne will have succeeded Ming Campbell. Lib Dem Voice is inviting party members to tell us what you think should be his top priorities. Paul Walter and Linda Jack have both had a go. Today it’s David Morton’s turn…

Paddy Ashdown once said that the first thing a third party leader had to do in the morning “was get noticed.” The media’s love of the two party consensus is well known but very real. As it seems that one slip …

Posted in Leadership Election and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments
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