Author Archives: Nigel Lindsay

Review: The Yorkshire Yellow Book 2019

If Liberal success is to be more than transitory, it needs to be based on a clear vision that can easily be transmitted to and acclaimed by the electorate.  On this basis, Yorkshire’s Liberal heritage is about to be reborn. The Yorkshire Yellow Book 2019 is bursting with ideas about how a future Yorkshire should develop.  Importantly, these ideas are evidence-based and embedded in sound Liberal principles.

The theme of the book – a devolved Yorkshire administration – is set out clearly in an excellent Foreword by Chris Haskins (former chairman of Northern Foods).  Illuminating comparisons between Yorkshire, Scotland, and London are made by David (Lord) Shutt. Yorkshire, with a population almost identical to that of Scotland, has higher unemployment but a lower GVA per head.  Both have GVA figures far behind that of London. Despite its relative prosperity, though, London is to receive over 50% of planned future transport spending in England, even though its extensive transport system is already massively subsidised by the rest of us.  New ways of sharing are obviously needed.

In this context, the authors build a convincing case for devolution. They emphasise that Yorkshire is a strong “brand”, with a recent track record of sparkling achievement in areas as diverse as sport (the Tour de France) and culture (Hull’s successes as City of Culture in 2017).  Philip Knowles points out that the party constitution implies Yorkshire’s entitlement to local decision-making on matters including health, education, agriculture and transport. Other valuable essays examine how Yorkshire devolution could work as part of a broader federal structure, as well as avoiding over-dependence on Leeds.

I was pleased to note scepticism about proposals for elected mayors, because it is difficult for the public to hold them effectively to account.  Rather the authors show a preference for devolution more along Welsh or Scottish lines, which two decades show to have delivered local accountability and to have engendered self-belief (as if that were lacking in Yorkshire!)

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Joint working with other parties – or leadership by silverbacks?

 

It seems as if the more we talk about gender equality, the less we achieve – at least in Scotland.

The Scottish Spring LibDem conference passed an exhaustive motion on the subject, but just a few weeks later the party saw its female representation in the Scottish Parliament fall from 20% to zero. Those who had proposed and supported the motion offered no visible resistance when the wonderful Alison McInnes MSP (who had been the only MSP to hold Police Scotland effectively to account for its many failings) was replaced as candidate by a male former MSP who has made little or no impact since then.

Yesterday, at the party’s autumn conference, a motion on Scotland in Europe was proposed by former MEP Elspeth Attwooll, and by Christine Jardine who fought Alex Salmond with distinction at the General Election. The motion called for a future for Scotland which retains the advantages of the EU “without the limitations of the unthinking Unionism of the Conservatives or the ideological drive towards independence of the SNP”. Nothing too controversial there, you may think – but you’d be wrong: to attack the Conservatives is to stand on dangerous ground nowadays, it seems.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 37 Comments

Opinion: Liberalism Unlocked: After the Coalition

On the eve of conference, a major new book on Liberalism is being published. “Unlocking Liberalism: Life after the Coalition” is a book of essays exploring what Liberalism should mean today, and how it can be taken forward after the 2015 General Election.

With a foreword by Charles Kennedy, the book starts with a masterly essay on the philosophy of Liberalism by Dr Nigel Dower of Aberdeen University, a lifelong Liberal who is a past president of the International Development Ethics Association.  This is followed by contributions from David Steel and Graham Watson, who examine Scotland and Britain after the Referendum, and Britain’s place in Europe.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Nick’s journey

It’s natural for defeated political leaders to make up stories which absolve themselves from blame.  After every by-election, those who have done less well offer unconvincing explanations. Nick Clegg is no exception, but his story last week that “the Liberal Democrats are on a journey from a party of protest to a party of government” is curious for two reasons. First, because no previous Liberal or Liberal Democrat leader has presented the party as one of protest and second because the party was very much a party of government before he became leader.

It is wrong and insulting to suggest that …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 31 Comments

Opinion: Clegg should look to Gladstone and Grimond, not John Lewis

Nick Clegg’s Mansion House speech on “a more responsible capitalism” gathered publicity, particularly for his widely-reported call for employees to be given the right to ask for shares in the company they work for. I am still puzzling over how people can be given a right they already have. Anyone can ask for shares at present, of course, but with no guarantee of an answer.

It would be meant something if Nick had called for employees to have the right to be given shares in their companies when they asked.   It would have meant even more if he could have …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 5 Comments
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    So 90% of builders are not from the EU and not being in the EU could be good for youngsters wanting to get into the...
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