Author Archives: John Pugh

Should liberals back Fair Trade: an LDV debate

We’re midway through Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd February – 8th March), and so today and tomorrow Lib Dem Voice is running two articles asking the question, ‘Should liberals back Fair Trade?’, putting two opposing viewpoints to our readers. Today, Lib Dem MP John Pugh makes the case for fair trade.

Why Liberals Should Back Fair Trade

There is no such thing as free trade. All trade is conditioned and controlled by regulation, convention, norm and even tradition. It is a process of social exchange.

Historically, Liberals have seen little benefit in insisting that people buy goods only from a given nation or …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Blue Skies Thinking

There is a section in Douglas Adams’ great work Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where the residents of earth decide they have had enough of consultants, public relations men, telephone sanitizers and other non-productive sorts. They send them out into space in a specially selected spacecraft for VIPs, claiming the planet is about to be consumed by a huge, inter-galactic goat.

My pre-dilection is to fill the craft with London think tanks (with a few honourable reprieves). Why?

Because they are collectively responsible for the sheer absence of radical thinking in British politics, the explanation of why party manifestos, rhetoric and …

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Opinion: Essence of Cleggism

Most good political speeches on policy are made up of mood music, initiatives and core ideas. By far the best section of Nick’s manifesto speech was the serious attempt to refine and define core beliefs on public services.

I am therefore emboldened to distil out of it the essence of Cleggism with the hope that if I am wrong I will be corrected and so further enlightened.

As I understand Nick’s thinking on the matter of public services, the state remains the funder and regulator of services but not the exclusive provider i.e.  it can give money to individuals to secure …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Opinion: Calamity, Conspiracy & Clegg

I can claim to have encouraged Chris Huhne to stand for the leadership when Charles Kennedy stepped down, while simultaneously believing and saying for some time that Nick Clegg will be/should be the next party leader.

I can also claim to have opposed both of them over the anodyne and partly mistaken views of the Huhne Commission – remember when PFI was thought to be a good idea?

In backing Nick I have had my credentials as a definitely left-of-centre Liberal questioned by a few parliamentary and non-parliamentary colleagues – along the lines of, “Dont you realise he is a …

Posted in Leadership Election and Op-eds | Tagged and | 16 Comments

What do you think of Lib Dem News?

For quite some time now I have been referring to Lib Dem News as “Pravda”. Did it coincide with the departure of Lord Greaves?

However this week it has excelled itself. I can cope with the consistently unfunny cartoons, tired rhetoric, pictures of people holding up placards and/or recanting their membership of other parties. Embarassing predictions of an election cancelled last Saturday only serve to tell us about ludicrously early print dates.

Perhaps the cartoon of Cameron lamenting his poll ratings is meant to be deeply ironic and there is a good article by Duncan Brack about John Stuart Mill’s …

Posted in Op-eds | 37 Comments

Opinion: THE RESULT, Media 1 (o.g. G. Brown) Democracy 0

At the Brighton Conference a very well respected former BBC journalist described to me talk of an early election as ‘lazy journalism’. He argued that much of the media was losing interest in government and the effects of policy and preferred to cover events and personalities. They thus wanted an autumn election and will probably punish Brown for not holding one.

Closeted with the press pack for three weeks over the conference season few politicians dared express anything other than a macho enthusiasm for a fight – often expressed in pathetic schoolboy language – ‘wimp’, ‘bottle’ etc. – nothwithstanding the constitutional …

Posted in General Election and Op-eds | Tagged | 8 Comments
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