Author Archives: Paul Harris

The British Government must leave the Chagos Islands

The little known story of the Chagos Islanders is one of the worst crimes in recent British history.

The Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, were first settled by the French in the eighteenth century, originally with slave labour to work on coconut plantations. They were governed by France from Mauritius. Mauritius became a British colony at the end of the Napoleonic wars, along with its distant Chagos Islands dependency a thousand miles further east.

By the 1960s, when Mauritius was approaching independence, there were about 2000 Chagos …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 8 Comments

Why we should be proud of what Lib Dems did in Government

When I was elected a Lib Dem Councillor  in Oxford last year a regular feature of Council meetings (where there have not been any Conservatives for 20 years) was the Labour diatribe against the Coalition Government. Even the most talentless Labour hack knew that a safe answer to any Lib Dem criticism of the Labour Council was to attack the Coalition and the Lib Dems’ part in it.

As this got increasingly annoying, I decided it was time to do some detailed research on the subject. I found  that we have a great deal to be proud of in our record in government, and I am now sure that  we should be publicizing this good record as much as possible. I have already made a start in Oxford and have noticed the anti-Coalition rants from Labour diminishing.

Our biggest achievement was raising the minimum income tax threshold from £8000 first to £9000 and then to £10,000. It is not uncommon these days to hear Conservatives claiming the credit for this very progressive reform which took millions of poorer workers out of paying tax, disproportionately women and part time workers.  In fact, as described in David Laws’s fascinating book “Coalition “, it only happened  because of continuous Lib Dem pressure inside the Cabinet, spearheaded by Nick Clegg, and bitterly opposed by George Osborne.

Second biggest was the pupil premium, which reduced poverty and improved educational opportunity by providing massive extra funds to the schools with most pupils in receipt of free school meals.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 82 Comments

Liverpool – a Federal Capital for the United Kingdom?

Should the capital of the United Kingdom should be moved from London to Liverpool?

For as long as I can remember the Liberal Democrats and the Liberals before them have been committed to a federal United Kingdom, but there have been many views about the exact form this federation should take.

The advantages of federalism are obvious. It separates macro-economic, foreign policy and defence decisions which have to be taken at a national level, and brings all other decision-making closer to those affected, resulting usually in better informed, and so better, decisions.

The …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments
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