Author Archives: Iain Roberts

Vince’s next speech

Vince’s conference speech had a lot of good policies and ideas, but the party is still failing to  communicate a compelling vision. We are not giving enough people a good reason to vote  Lib Dem at the national level, despite the gaping hole in the middle of British politics. Here is a speech Vince could give to start communicating that vision.

Building a Future for Britain*

Britain is getting poorer and weaker. This is not what we were promised. Low wage growth has seen real incomes fall and, thanks to Brexit, our economy has gone from the strongest in the G7 to the weakest in just a year. An astonishing and disturbing collapse in our fortunes.

Our country is being failed by both the Conservatives and Labour. Theresa May offers no answers. Everything she does is aimed at saving just one job – her own. Jeremy Corbyn offers no end of answers – if only we had the money to pay for them all. We don’t.

Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to Building a Future for Britain.

A Britain confident enough to play its part in the world, working in partnership with others. A Britain that’s open for business, not putting up walls to keep everyone else out. A Britain where those who put in the work reap the rewards, and those who need help receive it.

If you want a job, or a better job than you have now, the Liberal Democrats will ensure you have the access to gain the skills you need – regardless of your age or situation. We will help you to improve your life to Build a Future for Britain.

If you have a job, the Liberal Democrats will ensure it is well paid. We will tackle the scourge of the gig economy to Build a Future for Britain.

If you are in business, the Liberal Democrats will support you, help you and ensure that you can trade across the EU and more widely throughout the world to Build a Future for Britain.

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

The Liberal Democrats: on your side and fighting for you

The Liberal Democrat vote fell in June because too few voters believed we were the party on their side and fighting for them on the issues they cared about.

That wasn’t the only reason of course, but it was the main one.

So what next?

Forget talk of a progressive alliance. Labour will use it to beat us up. Caroline Lucas championed a progressive alliance and for her troubles the Green vote more than halved. Labour are always happy to take Lib Dem votes lent to them in the cause of beating the Tories, but in Lib Dem/Conservative marginals Labour actively campaigned against the Lib Dems. Had they not done so, May probably wouldn’t be Prime Minister. But Labour prefers to stop the Lib Dems and Greens even if it means a Tory government and that’s not going to change.

No. The Lib Dems will only survive and prosper by carving out a space for ourselves. Not some theoretical slot on the left-right spectrum. Not simply “we’re not the Tories/Labour and we can win here”. But a space where a substantial proportion of the British public see the party as fighting for them and on their side.

Posted in Op-eds | 36 Comments

How computer-driven cars are likely to transform planning in your town


It’s 2026 and you’re heading to your local town with the family. Not owning a car, you tap your phone and within a few minutes a self-driving taxi pulls up. You relax in comfort as it drives to your destination, then drops you off by the shops and heads off for its next fare.

Your neighbour is heading to the shops too. She prefers to own and drive her own car. Having got to her destination, she taps a button and her car drives itself off to park in in out-of-town car park, where it waits for her to call it back to meet her.

The technology to do all of this not only exists today, but is in use on public roads. Uber has been testing self-drive taxis on the streets of Pittsburgh for months and Tesla and Google have self-drive cars on the roads. Right now a driver has to sit at the wheel, ready to take over if something goes wrong. That won’t be the case for long. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Uber along with traditional car makers like Ford are investing billions to bring genuine self-drive cars to our roads.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

What next for moderate Labour?

Corbyn has won. It’s clear that he will come out victorious in any leadership contest and the Chilcot report has put the final nail in the coffin of a serious challenge.

And more importantly the left of the Labour Party has won. Their project – to seize control of the levers of power within Labour and change the rules to turn it into a true hard-left socialist party – will take another couple of years, but it will almost certainly happen.

So Labour as a party of government is gone and Labour as a party of protest is here to stay. Despite my many and frequent disagreements with my political opponents in the red corner, I have to say that is a tragedy for our country.

The question moderate Labour members – including the vast majority of their MPs, all their MEPs and a large proportion of their councillors – are asking is, of course, “what next?”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Where next for Syria?

On the night of the Syria debate I missed out on hearing Hilary Benn’s speech and instead paid a visit to my local mosque. Evening prayers had just finished and I sat in a room at the back with Dr Haytham Alhamwi, Director of Rethink Rebuild Society – “the voice of the Syrian Community of Manchester”.

Tempting as it was to discuss the rights and wrongs of the UK bombing campaign, we didn’t. It was clear that the vote would be won in Parliament. We were more interested in what happens next.

Whether you think that the UK joining the international bombing campaign in Syria is a good thing or a terrible mistake, we all want to get the best outcome. But what would that outcome look like?

We all know the situation in Syria is confusing, and I certainly didn’t leave the mosque with a perfect understanding – nothing like it. But over a coffee and a chocolate biscuit, I gained a much better grasp of what Dr Alhamwi’s organisation – and others like it who want to see a peaceful, democratic Syria – believe needs to happen.

Don’t give up on democracy

We saw western attempts to bring about democratic states in Afganistan and Iraq falter. We saw the Arab Spring burn brightly then sputter out. But, Dr Alhamwi argues, Syria can be transformed into a democracy. It won’t happen on its own, but it can be done.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 45 Comments

It isn’t always good for the Lib Dems when Labour and the Tories agree

There are no shortage of lessons for the Lib Dems to learn from our time in Coalition, but one of the most important is to understand the ability of the two main parties to work together to stitch us up like a kipper.

The rule is simple. If the Lib Dems want to get across a particular interpretation of an event, and both Labour and Tories agree on a different interpretation, we’re not going to do it.

I’ll give an example: tax cuts for the rich.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Government’s apprentice plan to take money from NHS and councils

David Cameron has unveiled a plan to “boost apprenticeships and transform training”. No doubt it will have positive aspects, but – as so often – the cheery message hides some issues that should concern us.

Organisations are currently incentivised to take on apprentices with Government funding from BIS. For larger organisations in the public and private sector that is about to change. The funding will disappear completely and, instead, they will pay a tax called the “Apprenticeship Levy” to cover the costs.

This tax or levy will be hypothecated: companies will get first call on their own money and will be expected to spend it on the apprenticeship and training programmes where BIS previously covered much of the cost.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 24th Feb - 2:19am
    @Roland. Consultation Paper 134 on Tuition Fees does not, of course, represent party policy, which is yet to be decided by Conference, probably next September....
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 24th Feb - 12:28am
    Roland, Predictions are difficult to make, especially about the future - so goes the quip. Keynes in the 1920s predicted that productivity and incomes would...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 24th Feb - 12:11am
    Peter, to be fair to the associate professor he does not claim that the UK will face insolvency. His argument is "the falling pound and...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Feb - 11:22pm
    @ Micheal BG, "bigger government deficits will bigger government deficits will everything else being equal produce a bigger economy in that economy produce a bigger...
  • User AvatarRoland 23rd Feb - 11:09pm
    @Joe Burke - "The conclusion notes “Keynes believed that aggregate real income would continue to increase as more and more capital is accumulated. This increase...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 23rd Feb - 11:05pm
    @ David Raw When someone makes an incorrect statement even if it is off topic others should rebut it. Like Laurence Cox did with me....