Author Archives: John Armah

Levelling Up – Revolution not Evolution

The Prime Minister gave his big speech on “Levelling Up” and as we discovered it is still a slogan in search of policies. The only positive was a half-formed idea around further devolution. If the pandemic has taught us anything from the separate policies of devolved First Ministers, Track and Trace to the spotlight on Metro Mayors, it is that effective policy can only be delivered at a local level.

Our current constitutional settlement is obviously lopsided between Nations and the English Regions. What’s worse, government fiat often dictates spending. It is time to recast our country and develop a model that works for the whole country. Every company knows that the closer a service is to the people it serves the more responsive it is. And yet the dominance of the Treasury and Whitehall means the government pays lip service to this idea. Local government is given responsibility but starved of funding. There is another way.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 28 Comments

After the statues – what next ? A Liberal way forward

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I have been sharing my experiences as a black Briton with my white friends. It has shown me that we need to educate our country on our past. We must develop our history curriculum and widen the outlook of our galleries and museums.

While it took a century to move from landowners voting to universal suffrage, in our digital age, change should be much swifter. We are an evolutionary not a revolutionary country. The Colston statue incident has shown us how the failure of democratic action results in the use of force.

As Liberals and Democrats, we should be proud that our country is all colours and religions and of no faith at all. The question is, how do we explain to all Britons how we got here? As Gary Younge pointed out in The Guardian, America’s sins are on show as they happened within her borders. In Britain’s case they happened mainly abroad, however the template was made in Ireland. Colonial Ireland with its plantations and dehumanising of the native population was a model that we exported to America. Discrimination is a legacy of a Christian nation justifying inhumane treatment with the pseudo science of race classification.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Beyond Brexit – Some policy ideas for the Radical Centre

The economic and political disconnect between the people and the powerful can be addressed in a Liberal and Democratic fashion. There is no monopoly of wisdom or one size fits all solution for the range of issues our country faces and we should acknowledge this.

We should aim to make our people ready to embrace and thrive in the next stage of globalisation. Our institutions will need to be more agile and responsive to the needs of the populus. As a party this means embracing some radical solutions and communicating an optimistic message.

What if power to the people meant just that, effective democratic control of the Nations and English Regions over domestic policy leaving a smaller Westminster to handle national taxation, foreign affairs,and defence.Bringing democracy to the House of Lords could finally be achieved by allowing the UK’s historic counties to select two representatives to a new upper house.

A more responsive government is the first element in a radical Liberal future. Embracing the changes technology will throw up will require a sustained, consistent investment in infrastructure, housing, education and skills and a reform of our outdated tax system.

Rather than Corbynite fairy tales about raising revenue, this future could begin with leasing our motorway network with an estimated value of £300bn. Allowing UK pension funds to takeover the network and realise their investment via tolls or smart-charging would release vital capital.

Posted in Op-eds | 48 Comments
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