Author Archives: Torrin Wilkins

Centre interviews the Liberal Democrat leadership contenders (Part 2: Ed Davey)


In this podcast we covered a huge amount. It included academic selection at the age of 11, Academies, Brexit, electric cars, UBI and lots more. Below I have looked at some of the areas in the discussion that I found particularly of interest. You can listen to the full podcast here.

The first thing was selection at the age of 11 which has created grammar schools, secondary moderns and in some cases technical colleges. In this we debated at length about the system and its issues with the low proportion of SEN and disabled students in these schools. We also discussed how it could be fixed with Ed suggesting ideas such as grants and including this as an element of Ofsted reports. Whilst this is a step in the right direction I am very much of the opinion, as I said in the podcast, that selection should be scraped as I don’t see any way to actually get around this issue. However, I was very happy that Ed was open to reviewing the issue in the future, not least as we have a paper coming out on this issue in a few months.

The second area I found interesting in our discussion was, of course. Brexit. As I mention in the podcast, this is the second time I have debated with Ed on this issue, the other time being the Victoria Derbyshire debate between Ed and Jo. Once again Ed showed he was passionate on the issue of Brexit but had moved towards accepting of a softer Brexit for the time being. However, I was a little worried at the mentions of a “Norway +” or a “Norway +++” model, something not really possible as it would require trying to simultaneously apply EFTA and EU free trade deals. I do still have some worries that if we are to sell a coherent policy on the EU to the public, it needs to be thoroughly researched first.

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Centre interviews the Liberal Democrat leadership contenders (Part 1: Layla Moran)

This week Centre sat down with Layla Moran to explore why she wants to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. Below are my thoughts on the interview and some of the key takeaways. However, if you want the full interview, you can find it here.

In the first part of the discussion, Layla spoke about her upbringing, how she travelled around the world during her childhood and her love of physics.

We also spoke about her proposals for a Universal Basic Income. Layla supports a UBI of “£40-50 a week for an adult, maybe a bit more if there’s children” although programs such as housing benefits would remain in place. In the Compass model that would give adults a slightly higher £60 per week, this means raises in Income Tax and National Insurance to generate an extra £81 billion for the government. That’s a sizable sum of money when such an increase would almost double education spending from 2019-2020 levels. We need to decide if this is the best place to spend new revenue such as this.

I am also concerned as to whether this will be enough for people to live on, especially if it ends up around £40 a week. I spoke to an Asylum Seeker the other week who was struggling to live off £40 a week even with free accommodation. Therefore, I do worry whether £40-50 will be enough and whether this is really the best way to spend new tax revenue.

Whilst I have concerns over the specifics, there were also some particularly good points Layla made when talking about UBI. Even for someone like me who is sceptical she sold the idea very well as if it were a form of people pulling together after COVID-19.

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Reintroducing Liberal Leave

 

Liberal Leave was formed as a part of Vote Leave during the EU referendum. It had the slogan “Liberal. Democratic. Internationalist.” and it mainly operated through social media. The most high-profile figure in the Group was an ex-MP called Paul Keetch who wrote an article in the Independent called “Think that if you are liberal you should vote to stay in the EU? Think again”. I was part of that group during the EU referendum and I now chair it.

I have tried to change the group so it is about a compromise between Remain and Leave, one that can be found in the ‘Icelandic option’ which differs from the ‘Norway option’ due to its use of safeguard measures. Compromise is what I feel Brexit should now be about, because otherwise hard-line groups on either side will shape it for us in the years to come.

We are against a second referendum. The argument used by Tim Farron during the recent election campaign was that we didn’t vote for a destination, just to leave the EU and that’s right. Therefore, we should have a referendum on just that, the destination. Do we want to remain members of the single market and do we want to remain members of the customs union? We should ask that rather than replaying the EU referendum.

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