Author Archives: Nick Tyrone

The Independent View: A new report from CentreForum highlights the problems with Labour’s tuition fees policy

A new report entitled “A Labour of Love?”, released today by CentreForum and written by Tom Frostick and Chris Thoung, weighs up the pros and cons of Labour’s recently announced policy on tuition fees, one which revolves mostly around the fees being cut from their current £9k maximum to a £6k ceiling. The report can be read here.

On the plus side, the policy does acknowledge the importance of maintenance grants. It also reopens the discussion that needs to be had regarding the balance between state and individual investment in undergraduate education by lowering the percentage of loans the government estimates will not be repaid. It would also apply to all undergrads, including those currently studying, so would be fair in that regard.

But there is a lot to say about the policy that is negative. If introduced, it would have little to no impact on a staggering lowest 60% of graduate earners and would mostly benefit higher earning graduates only (and even then, up to twenty-eight years after they’ve left university). It is also costed in such a way that could discourage pension saving, and its higher interest rate scheme for wealthier graduates contributes only modestly to the intended progressiveness of the policy. 

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The Independent View: “How to save public service choice for liberalism?” a CentreForum paper by David Boyle

David BoyleIn a series of essays that CentreForum will be releasing over the next few months in anticipation of the book, The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025, the liberal think tank has today released “How to save public service choice for liberalism?” by David Boyle, which can be read here.

It is the fourth in the series; the first, On Blasphemy by Maajid Nawaz, can be read here; the second, an essay by Tim Farron, Neil Stockley and Duncan Brack on green growth and climate change, can be read here; the third, “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” by Adam Corlett, can be read here.

David begins by stating that never has one word caused as many problems as “choice”. The word has become nebulous, and different political parties use it in very different ways. What the paper focuses on is what the word means for liberals.

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The Independent View: “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” – a CentreForum essay by Adam Corlett

In a series of essays that CentreForum will be releasing over the next few months in anticipation of the book, The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025, published today is the paper “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” by Adam Corlett, which can be read here. It is the third in the series; the first, On Blasphemy by Maajid Nawaz, can be read here, and the second, an essay by Tim Farron, Neil Stockley and Duncan Brack on green growth and climate change, can be read here.

Adam’s paper examines the tax system and identifies six key challenges facing any incoming government post-May 2015: simplifying income taxes; taxing investment intelligently; fixing corporate tax biases; reforming inheritance tax; taxing real estate; and making consumption taxes fair.

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The Independent View: Analysing the common ground between Lib Dem and Labour policy positions

Today sees the release of a combined piece of work between the Fabian Society and CentreForum that details what the policy overlaps between the Lib Dems and the Labour Party are, according to the most up to date data. The report is entitled “Common Ground? An analysis of the Liberal Democrat and Labour programmes”, and can be read here. By extension, the paper sets out what the discussion might look like should the two parties find themselves negotiating a government after the general election in May. The report does not recommend such an arrangement; it only seeks to outline …

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Opinion: Conference season so far – and what’s with the Tories and Human Rights anyhow?

Normally, as you all know, Lib Dem conference comes before Labour and Tory conferences. But this year, due to the timing of the Scottish independence referendum, Lib Dem conference is the last one up.

This means that for those of us who luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view) form part of the travelling circus that does all three conferences each year, instead of turning up bright eyed and bushytailed at our conference we’ve already done Tory conference, usually a killer health wise. I myself already have a mild case of conference flu that I’ve taken to Glasgow with me.

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The Independent View: New report from the Electoral Reform Society: Close the Gap – Tackling Europe’s democratic deficit

EU flagThe new report out by the ERS, written by Chris Terry, is one in which the problem of “democratic deficit” in the European Union is explored. This is an issue that pro-Europeans have traditionally shied away from. However, it is the pro-Europeans who must actually take the arguments forward if Britain is to remain in the EU. The Eurosceptics, meanwhile, simply need to hammer home the fact that, from their point of view, there are no answers other than exit.

In the report, twelve recommendations on how to …

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Opinion: The reason an EU Referendum is a bad idea is one that no politician dare utter

European Union flagWe are constantly told that we “need” a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. Here’s the thing: we don’t. We don’t actually need a referendum on anything just now. Referenda are, in general, actually a bad idea.

They are vital every once in a while: the vote happening in Scotland on September 18th of this year is a good example. The government of Scotland is made up of nationalists who want to make Scotland an independent country. To legislate directly for this would be unthinkable, so …

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Opinion: The hole in the “35 percent strategy” – the Lib Dem vote

TUC demonstration York 2014It was Lib Dem spring conference, 2012. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The crucial vote that weekend was on the NHS Bill. The pause was set to un-pause once more – if, that is, the Lib Dem membership voted it through. The mood was tense on both sides of the debate within the party. Just outside the secure zone, there was a gaggle of Labour supporters trying to convince Lib Dem members to vote the Bill down. Doing a very, very, very bad job of this, I hasten to add. Actually, if their aim was to get the members to vote for the Bill, they could not have done a more cracking job.

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The Orange Bookers v the Cameroons: Liberal Reform/ERS event at spring conference

This Saturday, March 8th, at spring conference, Liberal Reform and the Electoral Reform Society will be hosting an event in the Bootham Room of the Hilton York on the topic of Which Party for Liberals? Conservative or Liberal Democrats?

I know already that, right from the title, there will be some in the party who will be upset. “Why limit the choice outside of the Lib Dems to just the Tories?”, I can imagine some will ask. The binary nature of the debate was inspired by Nick Boles’ talk a few months ago about the need for a “National Liberal” party, one …

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Opinion: A Penny For Your Vote? – the costs of winning votes

Votes for cashThe Electoral Reform Society has released a paper entitled A Penny For Your Vote?, which explores the connection between politics and money. It will come as no surprise to most Liberal Democrats that the equation between cash and seats is out of kilter. But the hard numbers contained within the paper may still come as a shock.

The amount of money spent winning a single vote ranges from £3.07 down to 14 pence dependent on where in the country you live. The disparity between these two figures equates to the small number being 22 times paltrier than the large one. This is because, as most of you will have surmised already, the amount of cash that parties pour into a seat at a general election is mostly down to how marginal it is thought to be.

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Opinion: Ed’s made a bold move, but he absolutely needs to see it through to the end

As a Lib Dem, I obviously write as neither a Labour party member nor supporter, but I was genuinely stirred by Ed Miliband’s speech at the St Bride Foundation yesterday. It was bold, gutsy and liberal minded – qualities the Labour leader’s critics often accuse him of lacking. The announcement that Ed will push forward plans to change the current arrangements in which all union members across the country are automatically affiliated with the Labour party, to one in which union members will have to voluntarily opt in to Labour affiliation, was brave to say the least. It potentially …

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Opinon: The Liberal Reconfiguration. Thoughts inspired by the One Nation Labour conference

Last week, my job took me to the One Nation Labour conference at Queen Mary, University of London. There I saw a series of lectures followed by Q&A’s on what the future direction of the Labour party should and should not be. It was a fascinating day – the Lib Dem baiting they have gotten used to falling back on has (mostly) stopped and there seems to be an honest appraisal under way within Labour’s ranks about how they want to move forward. Of most interest to Lib Dems, and indeed liberals of all self-applied stripes, were ideas around …

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New report from the ERS: Reviving the Health of Our Democracy

After months of independent research, the Electoral Reform Society has now published a report on Reviving the Health of Our Democracy. On the plus side, we discovered that most people are as politically charged as ever, albeit mostly through individualistic modes of participation such as single issue campaigns. The downside, of course, is that they feel less and less like their political ideas and aspirations can be reached via traditional representative democracy. Turnout at most sets of local elections is now below forty percent. Even more alarmingly, last year’s Hansard Audit of Political Engagement discovered that the percentage of people …

Posted in The Independent View | Tagged | 8 Comments

Opinion: Worst past the post? Debating electoral reform for local government

Last year in May, Scottish voters were given the chance to vote using the Single Transferable Vote to select their local councillors for the second time since the introduction of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act of 2004. The Bill owes its life to the Liberal Democrats; it was a key demand for us entering into the Lib-Lab coalition government in Scotland. Almost ten years on from when the Bill became law, STV has done what it says on the tin. It has produced almost proportional results (exact proportionality is pretty much impossible under any system), it has almost doubled the …

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Opinion: Clegg tourettes – the three party conferences

My occupation took me to all three major conferences this year and I’d like to share my impressions with you.

First up, our lot. As usual, the press marched on us, expecting a revolt. Wanting to be there as Vince made his big move. As usual, nothing much really happened on that front. A few more grumbles about Nick than last year, that was all. The biggest complaint I have about my time in Brighton was the weather (particularly …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | 9 Comments

Opinion: Why scrapping Lords Reform is ultimately a disaster for Cameron

Many of the more right-of-centre newspapers are declaring that the government calling time on Lords Reform is a victory for Cameron personally. Iain Martin’s piece summarises this thesis.

I would argue the precise opposite. I think the whole episode has been a disaster for Cameron and damaging to the Conservative party overall, albeit in a minor way, at least when you take the fact that their only even vaguely electable possible leader has been politically debased out of the equation.

A question that has hung around the neck of Cameron since the near miss of the 2010 election is this: would …

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Opinion: Exploding the tuition fees polling myth

It is generally assumed knowledge – within the Liberal Democrats as well as in the wider political world – that our party’s poll numbers took a big nosedive right after the coalition government voted (excepting rebels) to change the way tuition works in England by raising the limit on what universities can charge students per year to £9,000.

For instance, a common answer I get when I ask fellow Lib Dems how many points they think we lost post tuition fees is “about 8%”.

What I want to do here is not to discuss the pros and cons of the 2010 Higher …

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Opinion: Firm Friend and Equal Partner – Alex Salmond’s Lecture at the Scott Trust

I attended Alex Salmond’s lecture at the Scott Trust this Tuesday. It will come as no surprise to most of you that it was a terrifyingly brilliant performance by Scotland’s First Minister. However, it is important to note that the man is an enviable position at the moment and is well aware of that fact.

For a start, he has the luxury of being both in government and opposition at the same time (government in Scotland while being able to dump on everyone in Westminster, including Labour). He proudly declared on Tuesday night that not only are the three main party …

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Opinion: Theresa May’s cat – why we should be proud of our conference

The vast majority of Lib Dems who attended autumn conference would agree with me in saying that it was a success. The mood surrounding the ICC Birmingham was unmistakably positive. The feared factionalism that had been predicted by some never materialised. But what really makes our conference seem amazing, in retrospect, is just how badly the respective Labour and Conservative gatherings have played out.

Labour conference was up first. As the only major party of opposition this should have been a conference to remember for them. A year of riots, phone hacking and a poor economy gave them more ammunition than …

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Opinion: Should I stay or should I go?

For those of you who don’t read the Daily Mail every day, there was a lead article last week all about how awful the Liberal Democrats are. No great surprise there, I hear you say. The reasons given this time were that the Lib Dems are looking to keep the 50p tax rate in place, uphold the Human Rights Act, and “frustrate every effort to cut immigration”. The party is also trying to promote too many green policies as well, ones that “threaten to cripple business”. Apparently, we are “reverting to type as the fringe party mouthpiece of Left-wing causes”.

Yet …

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Opinion: It should be about more than Murdoch

The left of centre in Britain had better figure out what it stands for when it comes to free speech and the monopolisation of power in the media.

There is apparently a flash mob, due to take place in front of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this afternoon. Well, at least if it isn’t still raining. Then the various protestors will probably head to the pub instead, if I know my protestors.

It’s been organised by several left leaning think tanks and pressure groups to try and achieve two things: 1. To put pressure on the government to delay …

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Recent Comments

  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    @Graham Jeffs - yes, I am fortunate to be living in a target seat, although I was campaigning for about 20 years before we won it. It's a long game. My point...
  • Alex Macfie
    The mistake made by Clegg & co wasn't going into coalition, it was the way they did it, going in too quickly and conducting it as a "love-in" rather than a ...
  • Mark
    I wouldn't normally encourage people to spend time reading Conservative Home website, but this article is well worth a read:
  • David Garlick
    Given in his speech his dismissal of action of climate change, so appropriate that the climate chose to give him a good soaking. A drip being dripped on....
  • Peter Martin
    @ Steve, "Might it help.if our party were to assertively oppose Neoliberal socio-economics...." Of course it would. It's unlikely any establishm...