Author Archives: Tom Morrison

Shirley Williams Lectures launched to promote ideas exchange

Liberal Democrat members and other progressives can now join an exclusive lecture club to challenge and engage with some of the most original and innovative thinkers of our time.

Launched today, The Shirley Williams Lectures will offer a platform to specialists from a range of fields to share their ideas and vision for the future.  Club members will be given the opportunity to consider and discuss how we can tackle some of the biggest questions facing the world.

Whether it is concepts for a new style of politics, views on the UK’s business outlook, the future of international sport or matters of global ethics, the lecture themes will offer fresh, thought-provoking and contemporary insight.

The lecture series will be delivered online and comprise one event per month during 2021.  Party leader Sir Ed Davey will be kick-starting the programme by outlining his thoughts on the post-COVID economy at the inaugural lecture on 28 January.

Other confirmed speakers include Juergen Maier CBE, who, on 26 February will be taking a deep dive into post-Brexit trade, Baroness Benjamin DBE DL, Olympic medallist and track cyclist Callum Skinner, and Sir Nick Clegg.

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Britain needs a Liberal party, let’s make sure there’s still one left

At the time of writing this, we have 17 days left of the leadership election and here is my confession: I cannot wait for it to be done.

Whilst we have two fantastic candidates standing for us, you would think from the comments being slung around by some members on social media that there is some vast ideological difference between the two.

I had the pleasure of chairing Liberal Reform’s Leadership Q&A this weekend and really enjoyed the debate. We discussed everything from nationalisation to the housing crisis, from party structure to the Orange Book.

And you know what? There was very little …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 26 Comments

It’s community, stupid

If there has been any positive from the last few weeks, it is the growth in community action. Support groups have been set up in many communities across the country, all focused on helping vulnerable people and supporting those that need it.

The Liberal Democrats have also been at it. Ed Davey launched the Coronavirus Taskforce in March, utilising the party’s army of volunteers to make thousands of calls to residents across the UK, checking whether vulnerable residents required help.

In Cheadle, there has been an incredible community movement. Helping Hands, a volunteer group, has assisted hundreds of residents collect prescriptions and groceries, whilst Cheadle FM has been started to keep those isolated residents without access to digital platforms updated and in touch with the outside world. Check it out at www.cheadle.fm!

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Transparency after Brexit?

 This agreement is a further step towards more openness and better cooperation, facilitating fairer and more effective taxation throughout the EU.” 

With those words, Pierre Moscovici, the commissioner responsible for financial affairs and taxation declared Europe as a ‘hallmark’ of financial transparency and openness. 

Last March, the member states of the EU reached an agreement to create a more transparent environment for tax advisers, accountants and other financial workers and services. Amongst a context that saw leaks from the Panama papers, this agreement set a standard in how financial corruption and tax avoidance would be tackled, shining a light on those that attempted to subvert their financial responsibilities. The process would be up and running in 2020, with information being exchanged between member states from October that year.

It is imperative that the United Kingdom does not renege on this responsibility, regardless of what happens post-March 2019. 

Corporation tax is a necessary evil. Whilst the drive for economic growth and profit has seen companies flourish, innovate and create jobs – those same companies are built on the foundations laid by our society. 

Our schools train the workers of the future, our infrastructure allows for the smooth movement and running of day-today business activities, and our emergency services protect property and keeps workforces in good health. All of these things cost money and taxation is a fair way to pay for these ‘hidden’ expenses. 

To avoid paying what is right is nothing short of theft. The EU’s transparency directive was a logical way of ensuring that there would be no hiding place for individuals or organisations not paying their fair share.

Therefore, the Liberal Democrats need to ensure that there are plans in place to ensure that these directives are not lost, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

Let’s put this in perspective: The UK has the largest number of offshore entities in Europe with around 18,000. The second largest is Luxembourg with nearly 11,000. With the UK economy predicted to fall next year – imagine the financial support available if some of these organisations paid what was fair?

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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.

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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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