Author Archives: David Thorpe

What the Lib Dems can learn about economics from Donald Trump

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4860335535/in/photolist-8puuqx-nH9KhK-x5gkW-a2Yx4D-8putCp-a32qpS-a2YbjP-9kJJvt-7b8177-8puprR-6SKbQG-6SKbZG-oKCWvp-dkaUyr-v2EDLi-r1tFvY-r1tFHm-9kNUaq-4Mph7K-ChcB23-8puqfH-8pxBCE-8pxDRo-9kJHqK-aWwhx4-9VBBzN-5WEQZB-a2Ybz8-9kJLQR-9kP8co-4icUAV-9kMMvL-9kMSBb-9kMNwd-bYafLo-8purhr-9kKZfe-nzKQ2n-yNYtG-8pup2p-8purRn-hKv96Z-8pupSi-8pust2-bZPiEm-9kP7hq-a32p7J-8upwDg-5MSyss-9kMKy9Not least among my irritating habits is that I often take the opposite side of the argument to whatever the consensus is at any one time, not because I necessarily believe it, but rather to test my knowledge of my own point of view.

But there are times when even my ability to agitate for an unpopular cause runs aground. Donald Trump’s presidency is one where the well of mischief runs dry.

But there is a lesson for liberals in Mr Trump’s economic policies, as his actions reveal the failings of trickle-down economics …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

How to prevent a repeat of the Carillion catastrophe

Whenever a rather technical public policy question pokes its nose out into the wide world of mass public interest a vacuum is created, a vacuum quickly filled with a gamut on nonsense and conspiracy theory.
 
The collapse of the Carillion has prompted just such fits of hysteria, but while I don’t particularly care that a private company has gone out of business, the issue of the pension fund liabilities is one that will recur many more times for policy makers in the UK as a direct consequence of economic policies pursued since 2007.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 40 Comments

If the Lib Dems had won in 2015

In May 2015 I was a callow and energetic parliamentary candidate, motivating myself with the daydream, but not the expectation, of what the UK would look like in two years if the Liberal Democrats won an overall majority in the general election.

Nick Clegg was Prime Minister and Vince Cable was shopping for a new briefcase as the first Liberal chancellor of the the 21st century.

Even my far more modest hopes for the result of the 2015 were dashed, eight seats in parliament and several excellent liberals cast from it left me as devastated as Paddy Ashdown’s hat must have felt.

There …

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Why there is nothing illiberal about cutting taxes

The decision by the Liberal Democrats in 2010 to include as part of its manifesto, and subsequent coalition negotiations, the raising of the income tax threshold was the culmination of years of debate in the party about whether to cut taxes or increase public spending.

Because tax cuts are more often associated with right wing parties, there is a tendency to view them as profoundly illiberal.

But actually cutting taxes enforces a profound liberal principal, that of devolving power, the power to spend their slice of the wealth in the economy,  down to the lowest possible level, that of the individual, and away from the centralised state. That increases the power held by the individual relative to the state, and so is surely as liberal an idea as can be.

Of course, that principle only applies when the taxes being cut are those of lower earners, the wealthy already have a lot of power relative to the state, and are not likely to benefit by having some more.

So tax cuts for lower earners  increase the freedom of the individual to do something.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 35 Comments

If you want a progressive alliance, you need to vote against Labour this time

The Liberal Democrats have officially ruled out alliances this time, but informal arrangements seem to be popping up all over the place, and it’s certain a vote for Corbyn won’t help any such alliance evolve in the future.

Vince Cable allegedly believes that there are certain Labour candidates in this election whose views ‘exactly match our own.’ If that is the case then it is rather reassuring that the current reactionary riff being performed by Corbyn and Co. is not the tune to which all of the Labour Party march.

But the problem is, that doesn’t matter. Corbyn has already said he would like to stay even if he loses the election, and that he doesn’t want alliances. So every vote for the Labour Party in any seat anywhere will become part of his narrative to suggest that rejection by the people is a mere detail, each vote a cudgel to legitimise their counter-intellectual concerns.

Socialism of the Corbyn kind is predicated on centralising power. It is an ideology of pessimism. Lib Dems like devolution and empowering the individual,  an ideology of optimism. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 43 Comments

Why politicians should tread carefully before using Quantitative Easing to build infrastructure

At a time when politicians grapple with how to use the tools at their disposal to reduce inequality of opportunity and outcome, quantitative easing {QE) can seem like an easy option.

To those blessedly unversed in the intricacies of the monetary policy tool that has dominated more than anything else the economy of the UK since the financial crisis, QE sounds like, ‘printing money and spending it on infrastructure.’

If only it were that simple. QE is a policy of central banks to buy the bonds  issued by their own governments, the aim being to push interest rates down and drive capital into assets more likely to make the economy grow.

So the first problem with any idea of using QE to increase government spending is that, well, the government doesn’t have the power to do it, Politicians can issue the bonds, the Bank of England can choose not to buy them, and the Bank of England is independent of government. 

Posted in News | Tagged | 16 Comments

Corbyn’s pay cap plan boosts the rich, not the poor

As usually happens when hard line Socialist utopias are created, Jeremy Corbyn’s maximum pay plan would help the rich not the poor.

That is because when employees reach the maximum, other ways would be found to reward them which would increase inequality and reduce the tax take from the rich.

In Soviet Russia access to the splendour of the Bolshoi Ballet was a perk for the wealthy. The poor weren’t helped, and no tax was collected on the perk.

So it would be if Corbyn got his way.  Employers would pay bonuses, perhaps in shares or profit share, when they can’t pay extra cash. The thing is, shares or profit shares, when sold, are liable to Capital Gains Tax, not Income Tax as wages are, and the capital gains tax rate is lower than the income tax rate above £140,000. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 23 Comments
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  • User AvatarRoland 18th Feb - 12:15am
    No Rob Parker, the referendum didn't mandate anything, however, various influential fringe elements of the Conservative party, being worried about UKIP and wanting to appear...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:22pm
    "middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention?" Why only middle class remainers? I live in the North too and, from...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:06pm
    As always it comes down to wanting more money for the NHS and social services. We are always asked "But where is the money going...
  • User AvatarRob Parker 17th Feb - 8:56pm
    "May’s speech shows that staying in the EU is best for Britain’s security" Right, but the referendum result, which politically speaking May HAS to implement,...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 8:40pm
    @JoeB, To be fair to Ricardo, he did float the idea of Ricardian equivalence, he later backed away from the idea. His entry in Wiki...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Feb - 8:27pm
    Can I put in a plea for the middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention? It is reported that the...