Author Archives: Michael Taylor and Ruth Coleman-Taylor

It’s April 2019, we’re out of the EU with no deal. What do Lib Dems do now?

The party has, rightly, focused on campaigning for an Exit from Brexit, but it appears to have done absolutely no thinking about how to campaign if we fail.

The press and internet are awash with Brexit doomsday scenarios: planes grounded; food shortages; lack of medicines; travel restrictions: a plummeting pound; riots; even a coup. However, Project Fear is no guide to campaigning in unknown territory.

How would we campaign in the new reality, if there is no People’s Vote or the vote is lost? There will be 9000+ council seats to fight on 2 May 2019, and we want to do well in those elections. If Britain does not Exit from Brexit, it will surely not be possible to fight those seats and ignore the UK’s changed circumstances?  Can we afford to wait until Spring Conference, or later, before we consider the consequences of this outcome?

Having supported the European project since its early beginnings, we are surely not going to abandon it now? It won’t be easy to persuade people to support re-joining the EU without the opt-outs and special deals we currently enjoy when so many of them want to leave even when we have all these benefits. It could be a long haul. In the immediate future, as a matter of survival, our country will have to try  – rapidly – to create a raft of new international agreements on trade; sourcing our food and medicines; creating new supply lines for manufacturers and suppliers; the new practicalities of travel. The UK currently has almost no people trained in the necessary skills to negotiate these agreements.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 44 Comments

Inequality and taxation

Since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, politicians – sadly including many in our own party – have denigrated taxation, reduced the levels of income tax and switched tax from income and wealth to consumption. All mainstream political parties have perpetuated the myth that you can have low taxes and good public services. When I first worked, in the late sixties, the basic rate of income tax was 33% and the top rate was 98%. This had persisted since the war, regardless of which of the main parties was in power. The basis for these levels of taxation was the need to pay for public services, including a good number in public ownership. There was also a view that the gap between the bottom and top of the income scale should not be too large. Broadly people accepted this post war settlement, except of course for a few very highly paid individuals – like the Rolling Stones, who went to live abroad.

Mrs Thatcher, a disciple of economist Milton Friedman, changed all that. Tax rates at the top plummeted to 60% (and later to as low as 45%) and basic rates declined a little. Soon taxation on consumption was to rise and there were new taxes too. The argument used was that income tax was stifling enterprise and that letting people keep more of their own money would incentivise them to invest and develop new businesses. The corollary was that there was less money for public services and an inexorable squeeze on those services was started by Mrs Thatcher, continued by John Major and compounded by Gordon Brown. The coalition made it worse.

At the same time inequality started to get worse. Over time the ratio of top earners pay to shop floor workers’ pay went up from about 4:1 in the immediate post war years, then to 10:1 and much more in some cases, even as high as 50:1. Peter Mandelson may have been relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they paid their taxes, but the effects of this huge widening of inequality has had devastating effects on our society, as detailed in ‘The Spirit Level’ by Kate Pickett et al.

The reductions in income tax continued, urged on by the millionaire owners of the press and media. Despite the big increases in personal allowances the gap between the top and bottom has continued to grow and with it the breakdown of the caring society some of us still remember. The politics of envy, stoked by the advertising industry, create a society filled with anxiety, mental illness and violence. In many areas people don’t even know their neighbours, let alone love them. Gated communities tell you just how uncaring we have become.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 34 Comments
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  • User AvatarPeter 22nd Jan - 9:45pm
    Goodbye, everyone.
  • User AvatarRossMcL 22nd Jan - 9:35pm
    John Roffey - you are perfectly entitled to leave the party, as you have done. But you need to accept that being outside the party...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 22nd Jan - 9:09pm
    @ Julian Tisi "But hold to your view that it was all the fault of the coalition if you wish." I don't wish, Julian, I...
  • User AvatarAlex B 22nd Jan - 8:49pm
    There's nothing selected which would debate how to improve our economic performance. Like improving our technical education for a starter. Or Brexit apart making it...
  • User AvatarHywel 22nd Jan - 8:34pm
    "Which means numerous leaflet and letter deliveries, thousands of door knocking attempts and hundreds of engaged activists are necessary to force our messages into people’s...
  • User AvatarTynan 22nd Jan - 8:18pm
    Ian Bailey, I see no real desire for a federal U.K. and even less for one which involves splitting England into regions. Neither do I...