Author Archives: David Thorpe

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

What if productivity statistics are not truly telling the tale?

In the Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond spoke at length about the productivity crisis in the UK, and how he intends to address it.

And doubtless, the creation of higher skilled jobs, of better broadband, of better trains, will all make it easier for UK workers to do more, benefitting the workers and the economy alike.

But what if the productivity statistics are wrong?

Although they hardly belong to the same generation as me, I have three friends or acquaintances who have yet to reach retirement age, but have pension provisions sufficiently large that they are not seeking employment, nor do they claim unemployment benefit.

The government has such folk as a zero in the productivity number, they don’t appear in the unemployment data, nor in the wage data.

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Responding to the anti-globalisation backlash

Ever lost a lover and then spent hours replaying the whole of the time you had together back in your mind?

If you engage in such reflection it’s often possible to see with hindsight where the cracks started to appear, and the happiness shunted to a road leading to subsequent despair.

Liberals have been shell shocked by a 2016 that has produced a slew of political upsets, and created a stew of uncertainties about the prospects for a progressive future.

The elevation of Donald Trump to the White House is merely the latest in a long line of upsets that have confounded the pundits.

Posted in Op-eds | 60 Comments

With his Trident stance Corbyn shows himself to be no fan of ‘new politics’

Few words stir the heart of the politically interested than ‘a new politics’, and quite right too, for who on earth wants the status quo?

But the utterer of that rather normative phrase is immediately pitched a political challenge, to keep on board those who are the bedrock of their support, while also delivering something challenging enough to be new.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man with far less personal ambition than he has integrity and honour, and that may be ‘new’ for a politician in the UK right now, but it is not enough to qualify as ‘new politics’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 17th Oct - 7:36am
    "The greatest man-made force for peace and progress in human history"?? Matthew, even apart from your non inclusive choice of language, this sort of wildly...
  • User AvatarEd Shepherd 17th Oct - 6:46am
    Large numbers of well-off older people were never highly educated. They grew up in period where there were plentiful permanent jobs,, full-time work, pension schemes,...
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 17th Oct - 1:04am
    @Martin I am only too well aware of the lack of any viable idea as to a way forward for the Irish border. What I...
  • User AvatarGlenn 17th Oct - 12:58am
    Frankie. I'm just pointing out the irony of these kinds of youth and internationalist orientated arguments . I don't see Brexit a cliff edge. I...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Oct - 12:33am
    Lorenzo is right to remind everyone of the diversity of reasons which caused people to vote Leave, but it follows that there are no easy...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 16th Oct - 11:58pm
    You are right, Martin, I believe - the Irish Border question does not look capable of a ready solution, despite the fact that the finances...