Author Archives: Tom Morrison

The Liberal Democrats must own the Northern Powerhouse 

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I was delighted to chair Liberal Reform’s panel discussion at Spring Conference with Wera Hobhouse MP, Laura Gordon (PPC for Sheffield Hallam) and Stephen Smith (Transport for the North). The debate explored the opportunities, threats and politics surrounding the Northern Powerhouse agenda and how the Liberal Democrats should take on the challenge of owning the agenda going forward.

The statistics speak for themselves: as a region, the North has an economic worth of around £304bn and would be the 10th largest economy in Europe if it were a single city. However, the region is grossly underperforming and whilst the initial objectives of the Northern Powerhouse agenda was to rebalance the UK economy, since Theresa May’s election as Prime Minister the Conservatives seemed to have cooled on this subject.

Elsewhere, Labour is nowhere. Calling the Northern Powerhouse a “toxic brand”, Labour’s devolution spokesperson Jim McMahon has offered very little on how the North can grow.

It was only last week that Ed Cox resigned as the Director of the IPPR North and stated that, “neither of the mainstream Westminster parties have properly grasped the critical importance of devolution in unlocking the nation’s potential and their own attempts to govern”.

It is clear that the Liberal Democrats are the only party with the know-how to deliver true economic growth and devolution to the North.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 28 Comments

A referendum on the Brexit deal is key, not growing other parties.

You know, I never understood why you gun control people don’t all join the NRA. They’ve got two million members. You bring three million to the next meeting, call a vote. All those in favour of tossing guns… bam! Move on.

It is one of the most memorable lines in every political anorak’s favourite TV show, The West Wing. Although steeped in high fantasy, the strategy from Congressman Skinner does present some food for thought – if you want to defeat your enemy, why not do it from within? It’ll be less bloody, it may even mean a quicker and more efficient way to smash your political nemesis into irrelevance.

These sentiments, in some part, were echoed by my friend and former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg in the Observer. In his comment piece he states that anti-Brexit Labour-inclined voters, and their Conservative counterparts, should join their respective parties to change the direction of each organisation and, in turn, the future of the country.

These voters, argues Nick, should then lobby their MPs, leaders and change the debate at conferences to make sure that Britain’s spiral into a Brexit self-harm is stopped.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments

Opinion: Human Rights – A call to arms

“David Cameron will launch a 100-day policy offensive…” states the Sunday Times, reporting on the Conservatives’ predicted assault on Europe and Human Rights just days after they secured the most surprising election victory in living memory.

While Liberal Democrat and Labour Party opinion-formers are calling for internal debates on the future of their respective parties, the Conservatives are moving in and preparing to push through legislation that is dangerous, destructive and most of all, frightening.

The Human Rights Act (HRA) should be esteemed as highly as the NHS. Receiving Royal Assent in 1998, the HRA is, in my view, the cornerstone of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments
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