Author Archives: Tahir Maher

Tahir Maher is a former Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats and lives in Wokingham.

A Canvasser’s Dilemma: “Hello, Mr Smith”

Knock, Knock!  Door opens… “Hello Mr Smith, my name is Tahir.  We are out today …”

Mr Smith: Let me ask you a question. A Labour guy and the Tory bloke came last week and promised the same things.  What is it that makes you Lib Dems different or more caring and able to deliver this for me as compared to them?”

Tahir:  “Mmm…”  A simple question that is not easy to answer for a resident.

I often wonder what is our local government raison d’être that differentiates us and gives us resident voting loyalty, other than hard work on local issues and name/face recognition.

The Party is determined to maintain its historical reputation for being the party of community politics and decentralisation.  Councils are and should remain central to our plans for the country.  We want to reduce the powers of central government to interfere in democratically elected local government. 

Mr Smith: “You just want local elections to be held using proportional representation and introduce local income tax?”

“Well we believe in equality and fairness. That means everyone’s vote matters and counts when electing a representative, as it should. We also want to have more local power to make our own decisions based on local needs and not those imposed on us from central government. Don’t you think that fair?”

Mr Smith: “Maybe, but what about local Income Tax?”

“Well it’s a better system and fairer than the local rates. Residents should pay on their ability to pay and not an outdated rates system that over a period of time has become unfair resulting with the poorest people paying a much higher proportion of their income than the richest.

Local income tax is a fairer tax system to feed local needs like repairing pot holes, better upkeep of parks and hedges, provide community gardens, more funding for child protection and better services for pensioners, to name but a few.

Mr Smith: “I don’t want you to build on the green belt but we need more houses.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Austerity and Napoleon

There is an old joke: Income tax was introduced (by Pitt the Younger) to pay for the Napoleonic wars and now that those wars are over, surely it must be time to get rid of Income tax.

As a Liberal I believe in the individual and to build a society that will support and nurture that individual’s potential. If you look at examples in history, in almost every case it’s the individual who has made a difference so it makes sense to support creative/driven individuals to enable them to realise their vision.

However, society is made up of groups and communities with individuals of different capabilities. The predicament is to have a tax system that not only encourages investment and reward but one that ensures society is also equally served.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

GINI Coefficient – is it really a measure of Press Power?

The Gini* coefficient provides an index to measure inequality. A measure of 0 shows everybody is equal, and 1 where the country’s income is earned by a single person. Allianz calculated (in 2015) each country’s wealth Gini coefficient and found the U.S. had the most wealth inequality, with a score of 0.80. As a comparison Rome’s top 1% controlled 16% of the wealth (compared to America’s 40%, today) with a Gini coefficient of 0.44.

How can a modern, educated, democratic society allow such a massive discrepancy in the distribution of wealth? The distribution of news (TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines etc.) …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Rebuilding the Party – a short term fix or a long-term dilemma

My team’s manager, Arsene Wenger, had a short-term problem to replace the players who left in January and a long-term problem because we haven’t won the league since 2003-04. Arsene repeatedly called on us to have faith in him because young upcoming players would strengthen the team to make Arsenal serious contenders for the title. He thought he could do what Manchester United did with “Fergie’s Fledglings” – which included players like Beckham and Giggs. Regrettably, it was not to be. Arsenal has no significant long-term solution and the focus is on short term fixes. But short-term fixes don’t …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 29 Comments

Should the Liberal Democrats sell themselves like chocolate?

The UK consumed £3.5bn worth of chocolate in 2009, according to market researchers. Further research shows advertising spending by Cadbury’s results in them making £3 for every £1 they spend. We all know what chocolates we like, yet the confectionery companies spend millions a year on product recognition.

Let me ask you a question. What comes to mind when you think about the word Labour or Tories? Labour – do you associated them with the unions, NHS, nationalisation; Tories – what type of people come to mind, their attitudes, economic groups they favour etc. Such characteristics are not fixed but …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 71 Comments

Opinion: Islamic State – it’s a conundrum

iraqI see myself as a small time politician who has an opinion on everything. But the proposed bombing of ISEL / ISIS (IS) worries me as I am conflicted as to what the right answer is. Does the term ‘We’ve been here’ before resonate?  And how about ‘We can’t just stand back and let these atrocities continue’?

Our record of being involved in the Middle East is very poor. On the last two Gulf wars we have demonstrated our military might but not foresight. We have demolished the perceived threat (although we still haven’t found weapons of mass destruction) excused ourselves out with ‘Now the right people will step up and do the right thing’. In each case we have failed to note that the population has been devastated by the wars. Ironically, we in the west have continually failed to recognise that the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent, if given the choice, much prefer the Western way of life. But if you have just been battered in a war, and those you hope would ally with you have done this, you turn to what is familiar and away from what you may have once aspired.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Experience tells us that attacking Syria would harm rather than help

I live near Forbury Gardens in Reading where the Maiwand Lion statue was erected in 1886 to commemorate the loss of 280 soldiers from the 66th Royal Berkshire Regiment at the Battle of Maiwand in Afghanistan on 27th July 1880. There is talk of a memorial for our brave soldiers who fought and have lost their lives in the current campaign in Helmand. In my opinion, when the Americans and the British leave, Karzai won’t be too far behind and Mullah Omar will be reinstated as leader. In recent years we also have the experience of the war in Iraq …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 20 Comments
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