Author Archives: Stuart Bonar

Opinion: A brave tax proposal

Back in June Mark Pack suggested that now is a good time to start debating tax ideas for the next manifesto. So, let me throw in two ideas: one brave, one not so brave.

Ready reckoners published online by HM Revenue & Customs make it easier to play the role of armchair Chancellor, so that is exactly what I am going to do.

My first idea is to increase inheritance tax by 5% to 45%, raking in an extra £350m, and then spend £300m of that to cut the reduced rate of VAT to 4%.

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Opinion: Taxpayer foots £6.7m NO 2 AV leaflet bill

We all remember the supposed concern the NO 2 AV campaign had for the British taxpayer. You’ll remember – who could forget? – their claim that the Alternative Vote would cost £250m, and that this’ll kill babies and soldiers. You might also remember David Blunkett’s polling-day admission that that was all nonsense, but, hey, all’s fair in love, war and politics, and I guess they were just really concerned about saving taxpayers’ money. After all, TaxPayers’ Alliance founder Matthew Elliott headed up their campaign.

Just to underline how much they cared about the public purse, they

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Opinion: Anti-reform peers shame our party

I confess. I am usually a bit of a loyalist. I believe the time I invest campaigning for the Liberal Democrats is best spent publicising our good ideas and our opponents’ bad ideas, rather than picking fights with fellow party members. On Lords reform however I feel forced to engage in an internecine war of words with some of our peers.

The Times newspaper recently commissioned a poll of members of the upper house to gauge their views on reform. It’s no surprise of course that our coalition colleagues, the Tories, are dead set against anything as vulgar as democracy creeping ...

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Opinion: Fairer votes – the Pret A Manger test

There are lots of ways to make the case for a fairer voting system for electing MPs, but I think I may have come up with the most novel. I was in the staff kitchen at work the other day when colleagues starting chatting about the referendum, triggered by a newspaper article about it. They were split between the YES camp and the NO camp, both drawing on what seemed like standard arguments deployed by both campaigns.

I started trying to win over the antis, but wasn’t really getting anywhere. Then a thought occurred to me. I was peckish at the time, about to head out to buy something for a very late lunch. It was the sort of time in the afternoon when the range of sandwiches at the nearby Pret A Manger starts to dwindle – maybe they’ll have run out of smoked salmon, BLT, chicken avocado or whatever else.

“I’ll buy everyone here a sandwich from Pret. You can choose what you want using either first-past-the-post, or the alternative vote. If you choose first-past-the-post then you get one choice and if it’s run out then you get nothing. If you use the alternative vote then you can, of course, let me know what you want ideally, but if they’ve run out of it you can let me know what you want as a second and third choice.”

You’ll be unsurprised to learn that they all decided to use the alternative vote, and I think this little exercise won over the sceptics too.

Of course if you meet someone who wants a less sandwich-based explanation of how the alternative vote works, I can heartily recommend this video that Jonathan Wallace shot of me setting out the case for change and explaining how the alternative vote works. Take a look:

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Opinion: Slaying Big Brother and Big Government in one go

We know the facts by now. We are borrowing north of £100 billion every year, with our national debt having now topped £1 trillion. To finance all that we are paying £120 million every day just to pay the interest on that debt – enough to build a new school every day or a new hospital every week. Only the most shameless of deficit deniers would argue that we do not need to find cuts.

So, let me offer up one idea for a cut that has lots of potential across the country: council-run CCTV camera cars. These mobile CCTV …

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Opinion: time to close the book on Booktrust

The Government should have stuck to its guns, and ended its relationship with Booktrust.

There was never any withdrawal of funding or cut as far as I can tell. The last government signed a time-limited deal with the charity to dish out books to children of various ages. That contract is due to come to an end next April, and the Coalition has always had every intention of honouring that contract.

From the media coverage and the reaction of some, you might imagine that instead of not renewing a contract, the Coalition had instead decided to indulge in human …

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Opinion: How do my election leaflets look now?

Rummaging through some papers at the weekend I came across my Election Address from May’s General Election. I was the Liberal Democrat candidate in Plymouth Moor View.

Conditioned after months of the media drip feed about how Lib Dems had stabbed every conceivable group in the back, I steeled myself to read the list of broken promises I had made to the good people of my home city.

Well, first of all, on the front of my Election Address, I promised fairer taxes that put money back in your pocket. I went into specifics, stating that “you will pay no tax …

Posted in Op-eds | 49 Comments

Is the Coalition failing the radical test?

One of the many great things about our party is its steadfast refusal to bow to media pressure. Take, as Exhibit A, the sweet joy of being a conference rep and voting down the leadership’s preferred policy option. We don’t care that it will be portrayed by the next day’s newspapers, as erroneous as it is inevitable, as a party split.

We are also a truly radical party. Most policies taken for granted today entered the pages of our policy documents long before Labour or the Conservatives sheepishly followed. Come next month I hope that gay marriage will be the latest …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin
    noncomformistradical, you are correct and compassionate here. Poorer and low paid struggle to pay, for television, too!...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Apologies, for typos, utilising a new device and getting used to that!...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    noncomformistradical I do not think the tone you take there, is pleasant, in this response to my humour and eating humble pie! I admit I said few, but s...
  • cim
    There's a difference between the right to cause "offence" and the right to cause "harm". If I say (to be clear, I wouldn't) "Lib Dems are traitors and the party...
  • Tom Harney
    The world has changed over the years. I joined the party in 1959. The first meeting I attended was probably 1960. There were a few people arguing that the Iris...