Author Archives: Helen Flynn

Latest Social Liberal Forum publication: Universal Basic Income as a tool for tax and benefit reform

At the recent SLF Annual Conference in July, a well-attended fringe session discussed the benefits and drawbacks of Basic Income.

My contention, as Chair of this session, was that we now need to be looking more closely at Basic Income, given increasing robotisation and technological change that will massively shake up conventional work, and given that our welfare system is creaking and needs modernisation. Basic Income is a policy that seems fundamentally socially liberal, and so it seems to naturally deserve attention from the SLF and all who are socially liberal.

Therefore the SLF is very pleased …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 33 Comments

Latest Social Liberal Forum Publication Now Available: “Northern Discomfort: An Analysis of the Lib Dem performance in the 2017 General Election”

Having had something of a break over the General Election period, the Social Liberal Forum is back with its nose to the grindstone, publishing new content to stir the interests of  liberals—in particular social liberals– everywhere.

We are very grateful to Michael Mullaney for writing his excellent analysis of the General Election results, especially as it focuses on the fate of the party in significant regions of  England.  We now hold only one seat in the north of England (Westmorland and Lonsdale) and looking at the north, the Midlands, Wales and East Anglia combined, we defended only seven of the 16 second places we were defending, and lost our seats in Leeds Northwest, Sheffield Hallam and Ceredigion.

The story of this General Election is undoubtedly the fall in vote share to 7.4%–wonderful as it may be to have increased our tally of MPs by four– and the party facing irrelevance in large parts of the north, and other parts of the country.   This is particularly distressing, as our policies would make such a difference to people living in these regions of England.

At the end of his piece, Michael says,

….there is a large potential market place for centre-left progressive politics.  This gives us the opportunity at the next election to present the public with a progressive, social liberal agenda.

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We got the power – a song to inspire our campaigning

It is great that we are in full swing so quickly for GE2017! Great organisation and planning by Lib Dem HQ all those months ago after the EU Referendum.

So, how do we campaign to get the best result for liberalism and the country? Focus leaflets, letters, memes, tweets, facebook posts, blogs are all vital parts of modern campaigning. But can I suggest a campaign song—a song that captures what we are about and is relentlessly upbeat?

Posted in News | 18 Comments

New SLF publication on the European carbon market

As Brexit continues to hog the spotlight in the British media, there are still important issues being discussed and votes taking place in the European Parliament that Liberals everywhere should care about.

On the 15th February 2017, MEPs voted on a package of regulations intended to strengthen the proposed reforms to the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and added their own amendments.

Tellingly, the vote was welcomed by a number of high-emissions sectors as well as the European Commission but heavily criticised by a number of NGOs and advocates of carbon market reform, with Climate Action Network, for example, describing the compromise as a betrayal of the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement. Next week (on Tuesday 28th Feb) EU environment ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss how EU member states will respond to the vote.

The environment and its stewardship have long been and remain part of the DNA of Liberals everywhere.  As part of its series of publications that challenge and progress thinking in a number of policy areas, the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) is pleased to announce the publication this week of “The European carbon market isn’t working – and social liberals should be worried”  by SLF Council Member Edward Robinson

The article looks at the history of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), analyses why it has not been working in the way it was intended, and looks at possible reforms to the system that would make it more effective at stimulating carbon price inflation and driving the uptake of clean technologies.

As Edward says:

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

How to campaign in a “post-truth” world

I am going to tell you a story.  It happens to be true.  But bear with me, there is a point to it.

The “Swinsty cormorant” was usually there, perched on a float around 100 metres out from the dam wall at Swinsty Reservoir in North Yorkshire, whenever I ran round it with my dogs.  I used to be fascinated by the lone bird and would always look out for him to see if he was there.  My imagination ran riot with why he was always there on his own with no mates in sight.  I was captured by the romance of his loneliness, I suppose.

But one day, about 18 months ago, it all changed.  I would often meet a man on the days I ran who I knew slightly, and we would have a chat.  One day I came across him by the location of the Swinsty cormorant.  I asked him if he, like me, was fascinated by this lone creature.  His reply crushed me—albeit in only a small way.  He pointed out something very obvious that I had, oddly, never thought of.  It was not the same bird there all the time—cormorants visited the reservoir in small numbers, so it was fairly evident that the actual bird changed, especially as there was only room for one bird on the float.

After that day, I did see a cormorant on the float occasionally, but did not particularly look out for it nor spend any time thinking about it really.  I suppose that was when I realized that I, in common with many people, was a “sucker” for a good story.  But when faced with the facts—the evidence—which blew the story away, I was not particularly interested.  The only actual point of interest was the fact that cormorants were regular visitors to the reservoir.

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Why liberals should embrace the Steady State Economy

One of the saddest things about the lurch to extremism and the right wing of the political spectrum over the past few years—and especially these last few months—has been that attention has been taken away from the significant problems with capitalism and its reliance on continued growth that the 2008 crash had exposed.

The Classical Economists, in particular Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, had already theorised centuries ago that growth could not go on forever and that eventually states would enter the condition of being a “stationary state”.  John Stuart Mill wrote that the “increase of wealth is not boundless….the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 35 Comments

Opinion: It’s the Inequality

Gary Lineker has been coming out with some pithy, relevant comments recently on Twitter, and much like an essential feature of the game he professionally played, the result of the US election reveals a country of two halves.

Like Brexit, this result and the corresponding lurch to the right, stem from inequality. Unfortunately, and quite to the contrary of what these dispossessed people have voted for, the resulting administration now has the propensity to make their situation far worse.

It is one thing to be a demagogue and stand up and say what you think people want you to say. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMartin 19th Oct - 5:13pm
    Antony Hook lays bare (again) the utter incoherence of Brexit and that it is self evident that there can be no democratic consensus behind any...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 19th Oct - 4:49pm
    I hope David Howarth's paper was not to be produced for December 2013. Otherwise we'd need a Tardis to find it.
  • User AvatarJoeB 19th Oct - 4:49pm
    Michael BG, I posted the exchange at PM questions yesterday to highlight what passess for economic debate at the highest levels in our parliament. Contrast...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Oct - 4:44pm
    @ Michael BG I suggest you accept the Scottish meaning of blether : "in colloquial terms, people usually know it to mean a lengthy chat...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 19th Oct - 4:20pm
    A very inspiring post, Kirsten. What is remarkable is that, even at a very young age, Martin Luther King had astonishingly brilliant skills of oratory!...
  • User AvatarPalehorse 19th Oct - 3:47pm
    "The National Debt can decline as a share of GDP in the good times." I continually ask "When do the good times come and how?"...