Author Archives: Tom Purvis

What do you want from a new leader?

With the leadership election coming up over the summer, I was glad to open my inbox to see an email from Mike Dixon, CEO, asking the membership what issues the candidates should talk about.

This email has given members a chance to select six key policy areas that they want to be discussed with the leadership candidates. The six most popular issues will be used to frame the hustings.

I would urge everyone to use their votes. I felt that in the last leadership election, the pitches ended up feeling very similar, irrespective of differences. I suspect that will not be the case this time around.

There are three policy areas that I would urge you to vote for. These are (i) Economy and Jobs, (ii) Health and Social Care and (iii) Education and Skills.

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It is time for the Lib Dems to talk about policing


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It is time for the Lib Dems to talk about policing, or more specifically, dealing with crime. As a member of the Social Democrat Group, I agreed with much of what this Lib Dem Voice article said, however, the first comment also rings true.

The 2019 Manifesto was very light on how we deal with crime and until we figure out how to have a constructive conversation about it, I suspect, we won’t do as well as we can.

This is not to say that the immediate answer has to be more tasers, as some Conservatives suggest, or paying police pennies on the pound as the now ex-Shadow Home Secretary suggested in that infamous LBC interview.

We can have a constructive discussion on policing and crime reduction, whilst continuing to hold our liberal values. We must become comfortable talking about policing if we are to win again, especially as throughout 2019 crime became the second most pressing concern for people, according to YouGov.

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It is time for a double lock on public sector pay

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I suspect most of us have seen this article by the Telegraph suggesting that there could be a two year public sector pay freeze to help pay for the £300bn coronavirus bill.

This must not be the case and we must fight tooth and nail to oppose any measure that freezes the pay of the public sector again. Instead, we should push for a double lock on public sector pay.

The pension triple lock was introduced under the Coalition, and was a Lib Dem policy, to help improve the living standards of those who had retired. The public sector double lock should be there to do the same for public sector workers.

I propose that it works in a similar way to the pensions lock, that is either a pay increase of 2.5% or RPI + 1%, whichever is highest. A pay settlement like this will show the 5.4 million people employed in the public sector that we support them wholeheartedly and will help us to recruit more people with diverse experience.

The boost to consumption will be welcome as we need to get people spending money again, money which they can only spend if they have it. Healthcare in particular has seen large productivity increases in the last decade, outperforming some of the private sector, it’s time they were rewarded.

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As liberals, we should support different types of working

Prior to the lockdown kicking in, UK employment was remarkable. The decline in unemployment is something that should be applauded and something that begun when we were in Coalition. The benefits of employment are well known such as having more money to spend and improved mental health.

One of the reasons for this strong growth is people taking up roles within the gig economy, such as Uber, Deliveroo or Just Eat. The negative attitude towards the gig economy needs to go and I will present multiple reasons why.

Firstly, the academic evidence on the gig economy highlights the benefits that it can …

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Why we should support our armed services more

The NHS Nightingale Hospital shows us the value in supporting a properly funded armed services.

The UK currently has a target of spending 2% of GDP on the armed forces, however, that figure includes a lot of spending that doesn’t directly go on the armed forces.

Hopefully, the professionalism of the armed forces in getting resources from A to B and setting up the field hospitals will show why it is important that we increase funding on the armed forces going forward, to make up for spending cuts that have occurred since 2010.

As COVID spread across the country, it became clear …

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It’s time for us to get out of people’s lives

It’s time for us to defining what we are for, rather than simply what we are against. A new Labour leader who is far more electable than the previous, and a Conservative Government that is currently polling really well, puts the Lib Dems in a tricky electoral position.

Part of the problem is that people seemingly know what we are against, such as Brexit, but people don’t really know what we are for. It’s what we are for that we can then create a positive message for the UK, a vision that people can get behind.

I think we should begin with re-finding liberalism and putting that right at the front of our offering to the electorate going forward. It’s time for us to get out of people’s lives and let adults make their own decisions. We are pro-drug reform, a very sensible policy, yet we are inconsistent in other areas.

For example, we are, as a party, supportive of the Sugar Tax, despite strong opposition internally and we have been supportive of restricting food advertising too. Furthermore, we have been pro-minimum unit pricing on alcohol. A policy which puts pubs out of business, damaging the social fabric of many communities, and hurts the millions of responsible drinkers across the country.

This is not liberalism. It is interfering with people’s lives in a way which doesn’t even lead to the intended outcomes, in most cases.

For example, the Sugar Tax was introduced to reduce obesity. The goalposts swiftly changed to targeting a reduction in sugar once it became clear people simply substituted sugary drinks for sugar elsewhere.

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The launch of the Northern Liberal Network

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For Blair and Brown there was the famous Granita Pact. For Laura and Lisa there was the Hope Pact. Earlier in the year, Laura Gordon posted on Lib Dem Voice to announce the launch of the Northern Liberal Network. The formal launch will be at Spring Conference, which appropriately is being held in York.

Upon seeing the original post by Laura, I knew I had to get involved. I grew up in Redcar, a seat described by some as one of the keystones of the Red Wall. What a lot of people fail to realise is that the Lib Dems held the seat between 2010 and 2015. Other Red Wall seats include Bradford East and Burnley – another two seats that used to be held by the Lib Dems.

Our party has a lot to offer places like these. They deserve better than a Conservative government which won’t care about them and they deserve better than a Labour party which has ran councils across the North in a way that should disgust everyone involved in politics. The problem wasn’t our policies which would have helped provide an additional £50 billion in capital investment, extra money for bus services and further devolution. It was that we failed to make a clear offer to voters in the North. The Northern Liberal Network will work tirelessly to make sure this does not happen again.

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Winning in local elections

 

Whilst the General Election results were disappointing, we have a set of local elections in May which present our party with an opportunity – to rebuild trust with the electorate ahead of future national elections.

It will most likely be 2024 at the earliest when the next election is, assuming the Government remove the Fixed Term Parliament Act, so that gives us four years to win in local elections across the country and show the electorate that we can be trusted to represent them well at a local level.

Historically, we have done well in parliamentary constituencies where we have done well locally, a point which Paddy drove home time and time again in his speeches and books. Perhaps this is not surprising, given how hard working our councillors are. The same hard-working nature cannot be said for Labour councillors.

In places like Sheffield, we have a real chance to deny Labour a majority. In May last year, we were able to win in the South East of the City, which we have not done for a long time. As well as this, we gained seats in the North of the City too. Hopefully, we can replicate that this year and continue to make gains which will prevent Labour’s control.

By winning seats and then doing the job we have the privilege to do, we can show residents that we will not take them for granted, we will listen to them and we will help to make their lives that little bit better. Whether it be cutting bushes back so that a wheelchair user can access a path, building a partnership between the local residents and police force or pointing residents in the right direction when they have a problem with housing or council tax. We can make a difference and it is this difference which will help to build a new alliance of Lib Dem voters.

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