Author Archives: Gareth Wilson

Welfare reform: enough of the stick, time for the carrot

This coalition has bravely attempted to tackle welfare reform. It’s been controversial, unpopular, but essential – the fact that unemployment has remained surprisingly low throughout this parliament is partly due to the welfare and labour market reforms this government has introduced.

However, there have been far too many losers in the last round of austerity. With the next parliament approaching we must change tact on welfare reform. As Liberal Democrats we believe that politics doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, where one group benefits at the expense of others. That’s why with any future reforms, like a surgeon we …

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Opinion: Scrap Sunday trading laws to boost the high street and the economy

SundaysAfter yet another mad dash with the family around the shops last Sunday afternoon I read with great interest that members of the All Party Parliamentary Retail Group have recently tabled amendments to the Deregulation Bill currently going through Parliament to remove restrictions on Sunday trading and the launch of a new consumer-led campaign group to lobby MP’s to support these proposals.

Introduced in 1994, the limited Sunday opening hours for shops over 280 square metres were designed to protect local convenience shops from the bigger supermarkets. Fast forward 20 …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 61 Comments

Opinion: In coalition, more than ever, our leadership must listen to party members

lib dem conf votingThe Maria Miller furore has recently highlighted how voters between elections are powerless to change their MP, once they’re ‘in’ that’s it – you have to wait another five years to give your judgement on how they’ve performed.

In our ‘always on’ modern culture this is unusual. People can cancel utility contracts or switch broadband suppliers within days if they’re unhappy with the level of service, or give instant feedback online or over the phone which is listened to and actioned.  Shouldn’t we be able to …

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Opinion: A fair tax revolution: Our most important manifesto commitment

Clegg fairer tax in tough times - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsA highlight of last week’s Spring Conference for me was Friday’s consultative Q&A session on the next manifesto. Lots of great ideas were suggested, ranging from river based power generators in flood prone areas to encouraging home work to reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions.

What stuck with me was David Law’s appeal for ‘manifesto themes’. There were lots of good suggestions but the majority were small scale – great ideas but difficult to tie into a strong simple theme we can get across to voters.

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Opinion: I’m 89% Liberal Democrat and a lot of my friends were surprised to be too

Friday lunchtime at work I was sent this email:

email image

Intrigued, I followed the link to the website and did the test myself, which came back Lib Dem with a bit of Labour thrown in.  The Tories, UKIP and the BNP were at the bottom. Pretty accurate. I then repeated the test with the knowledge I have of the policies of the other parties, again impressively accurate whoever I pretended to agree with, from the Greens to the BNP. It’s a very well researched questionnaire.

What made me write this post was …

Posted in News | Tagged | 28 Comments

Opinion: The raging south east property boom must be stopped, without harming the rest of the UK

Vince Cable speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today warned of a ‘raging housing boom’ in the South East where large parts of London could end up inhabited by only ‘foreigners and bankers’ (boroughs such as Camden, Haringey, Hammersmith and Fulham already have an average house price to earnings ratio of over 11).

One solution would be to raise interest rates making borrowing less affordable. But as Vince said today:
“The danger of raising interest rates is that you hit those parts of the country which are not yet fully recovered, you push up the exchange rate …

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Opinion: the Government’s obsession with London is holding back our creative industries – and the recovery

As a failed rock guitarist but still passionate consumer of music I always look forward to the Mercury Music awards at the end of October, and this year’s nominees were as interesting and eclectic as they usually are. What wasn’t as diverse was where these acts originated from. Over 60% were from the Greater London area and only four were from outside the south east of England, which is surprising when you consider the award covers the whole of the UK and Ireland. It seems the advice I heard fifteen years ago during my short and unsuccessful music career is …

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Nick Clegg’s position on benefits for wealthy pensioners is confused and needs clarifying

Poverty LaneIn its first annual report, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has proposed cuts in welfare for well-off pensioners, including currently universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass and free TV license, proposing the money should be used to help children in poor families.

Proposing a fundamental shift in welfare support from pensioners to the young the report says:

We do not believe that favouring pensioners over their children and grandchildren will be a sustainable position over the long term if a meaningful dent is to be made in the UK’s high levels of child poverty and low levels of social mobility.

Writing in the Telegraph yesterday Nick Clegg welcomed the majority of this report but has rejected one particular aspect.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Opinon: Don’t confuse declining membership with a decline in interest in politics

A couple of months ago I was thinking about going to the Glasgow conference. I’d never been before. ‘You’ll enjoy it’ said some fellow local party members, “and you can be a voting rep too if you decide soon.”

My wife spotted the chance of a weekend away from the children.

‘Can I come?’

‘Well I was hoping you’d come but you’ll have to join the party’

So we both decided to go at the last minute, with her joining the party the week before. With a little complication on getting her security cleared we went for three days until we’d exhausted the goodwill …

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Recent Comments

  • Roland
    @Alex Macfie “ this should not distract us from the reality that after the 2015GE we had a Tory-only … government. … it means that what happened since th...
  • David Brunnen
    Thanks Steve ‘marvellous match’ Trevethan - making a monetary bonfire will require a good many sparks and the patience to keep the fire going! Right now th...
  • David Allen
    Davey - Making Sunak look dry!...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Former Dem: Nick Clegg has left active UK politics, along with most of his Coalition-era entourage. Bringing him into the discussion at all suggests an agenda ...
  • Chris Moore
    No, expats, that wouldn't get us any coverage at all. And it's a total travesty to say all we get is gimmicks. In reality, we've done well the first few ...