Author Archives: George Kendall

Should Liberal Democrats get more angry at Corbyn and the Tories?

I’ve been getting more angry in my politics. In 2015, it was the post-coalition Tory savaging of the low paid, last year it was Vote Leave’s deceits, this year the hypocrisy of Corbyn in supporting welfare cuts.

But this week I was brought up short, when told I should stop looking for the speck in the eyes of my political opponents.

That stung. That section of the Bible has influenced me enormously. As a teenager, I memorised most of it. I constantly think of the impossible standards it sets, try to follow them, and of course dismally fail.

I think for Liberal Democrats, whatever our views, the influence of the teachings of Jesus runs deep. There are reasons for our reputation as the ‘nice’ party, perhaps through our nonconformist roots or our British culture.

But I have a love-hate relationship with that niceness. In the 2017 election, the Tories supported £9bn welfare cuts, Corbyn £7bn, we campaigned for no cuts. Yet, when Corbyn supporters claim the moral high ground on welfare, we let them.

Sometimes when faced with an obvious hypocrisy, it is best to ignore it. Matthew 5:22 says it can even be wrong just to get angry. It’s hard, but the teachings of Jesus were never meant to be easy.

Yet is this what the Bible as a whole always calls for, for Christians, or indeed for any who base their morality on the teachings of Jesus?

When Jesus saw traders ripping off the poor in the temple, he got angry. Was he right to? If so, maybe there are situations where anger is a good thing. After all, if neuroscience shows that anger is an intrinsic part of us, maybe it’s there for a reason.

Posted in Op-eds | 28 Comments

Policy pitch: Divert money from Tax Credits to Lifelong Training Accounts

Have you ever heard the following?
“The government should stop subsidising exploitation wages.”
“I work hard for my money. Families on child tax credits need to get up off their backsides.”
If you’ve canvassed on council estates you probably have. And, no doubt, the #labservatives have too, which is why both of them supported massive cuts to welfare.
There are good reasons for continuing with in-work benefits. The policy of both Labour and the Conservatives is to raise the minimum wage and cut benefits. This will result in employers replacing lower paid employees with automation; reorganising

Posted in Op-eds | 80 Comments

Apologies for the “fringe of Conference”

The Social Democrat Group event last Monday was described as the “fringe of the conference” and “by far best #ldconf Brexit discussion yet“. However, hundreds may have been disappointed, and for that we apologise.
Entitled “Can Britain’s relationship with Europe be saved?”, and jointly organised with Policy Network, it was a fantastic discussion, with far too much substance to cover properly in a single LibDemVoice article. To listen to or watch a recording of the event, go to http://www.ldsdgroup.co.uk/events/can-britains-relationship-with-europe-be-saved/.
The event opened with Roger Liddle, Labour peer and co-chair of Policy Network, which jointly organised the event. He thought the Tories would stick together and do some kind of Brexit deal. He said there would be a transition deal before a final deal, and he correctly predicted that May’s speech this week in Florence would say so. He warned this would make campaigning to remain in the EU more difficult. It would mean a transitional deal where little changed for two years, so that the British public would only discover how catastrophic Brexit was two years after we had already left. Roger suggested that we would therefore leave, and the battle would then be to rejoin. However, he said this is a battle we can win.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, emphasised that we are democrats, we are not afraid of the will of the people, and so we should propose a referendum on exit terms. To convince the public how dangerous Brexit is, we need to find language to bring a divided country together. We must keep raising this issue, including “the dreaded conversation over the Christmas turkey”. We also need to persuade the EU too to change its language. Some comments from Jean-Claude Juncker have been unhelpfully divisive.
The chair of the meeting, Sarah Ludford, who speaks for the Liberal Democrats on Brexit in the Lords and is a former MEP, agreed, saying that some in the EU “just saw us as a pain in the backside” without appreciating the significant positive contribution the UK has brought to the EU.
Posted in News | Tagged | 10 Comments

If we want to save Britain’s relationship with Europe, we mustn’t demand a second referendum

Too many people have given up on saving our relationship with Europe.

At present, things don’t look good. We’ve an incompetent government, flirting with exiting without a deal. A Prime Minister who has swayed like a weather vane, supported Remain, but, now it is expedient, advocates an extreme Brexit.

We’ve a charlatan of an opposition leader, who claims he supported our membership of the EU, but sabotaged the Labour Referendum campaign, and has since used his power as leader of the opposition to promote an extreme Brexit.

However, we shouldn’t lose heart. Brexiters are nervous, and with good reason. They know, if public opinion shifts, unprincipled politicians will turn on a sixpence.

As a party, we’ve made a referendum on exit terms the centre of our campaigning. But is that wise? Surely it’s pointless to campaign for a referendum we’d lose. Instead, our focus must be on changing minds.

Many politicians are terrified of the electorate, despite knowing full well what a disaster Brexit will be. However, if public opinion changes, and the majority demand the final say over whether the Brexit deal on offer is acceptable, most MPs will be happy to give it to them.

So how do we change minds?

Not with insults. Insulting our opponents can be cathartic, but when we resort to name calling, we’re losing the argument.

The winners of this Brexit debate will be those who can make the public angry with their opponents. If the public are angry with us for contemptuously dismissing those who voted Leave in the Referendum, we’ll lose. But if the public are angry with those who lied to get a Brexit without a workable plan, then we’ll win.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

If they say you’re a Red Tory or a Yellow Tory, ask about Corbyn’s welfare cuts

Jeremy Corbyn’s team had promised to reverse child tax credit cuts, but in their 2017 manifesto, they did nothing of the sort as the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows:

Corbyn’s manifesto planned to increase taxes by £46bn per year and to borrow an extra £350bn. With so much extra funding, there was enough to honour their promises on welfare, so voters could be forgiven for assuming that they would.
In his first leadership election, Corbyn said: “Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake”.  This issue of welfare cuts is why he defeated his Labour rivals for the leadership, because they had previously abstained on a number of votes.
In autumn 2015, John McDonnell, his Shadow Chancellor, didn’t just commit not to implement these cuts, he promised to reverse those that had already happened: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits. If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will”.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 60 Comments

How to win people over to the Liberal Democrats

When I’ve heard strong disagreements about Brexit, whether the coalition was a good idea or not, or who should be welcome in the party, I’ve often thought of this video from Christians in Politics.

It features our very own Sarah Dickson, Director of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum.

It has a simple message. The importance of disagreeing well.

It’s an important message, not just for Christians or just for Easter. And it’s important for everyone involved in politics.

Posted in News | Tagged | 18 Comments

Why aren’t our poll ratings higher?

On the train to Spring conference, as I was chatting with a student, I mentioned I was a Lib Dem. He said: “Aren’t they the party that saved the country, and then got destroyed because of it?”

My first thought was: “Wow! Student opinion has shifted since 2010.” But I also noted that he didn’t realise how much we’ve recovered since the last General Election.

Posted in Op-eds | 56 Comments
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