Author Archives: Bill le Breton

Here’s to the crazy 7.4%

In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple having been ‘ousted’ a decade before.  In that time the famous ‘Mac’ hadn’t progressed.  Microsoft’s Windows had caught up and overtaken it.  Sales were down 30% year-on-year. It was haemorrhaging cash and talent. There were no new products in the pipeline. Speaking to staff Jobs explained, “There are a lot of great people at Apple, but they’re doing the wrong things because the plan has been wrong.”

“I think you still have to think differently to buy an Apple computer. The people who buy them do think different. They are the creative spirits in this world, and they’re out to change the world. We make tools for these kinds of people.”

Isn’t he describing the 2.35 million who voted Lib Dem in 2017 and how they feel about themselves?  So here’s his advice to us, “We too are going to think differently and serve the people who have been buying our products from the beginning. Because a lot of people think they’re crazy, but in that craziness we see genius.”

We’ve all met them haven’t we? The people who voice support for us in their communities, in their workplaces, in the pub, among their friends, on line. Their endorsement makes us smile with a quiet satisfaction because we have done and said those things too. We too have been lone voices – crazy ones.

We too make tools for these kinds of people; information and campaigns for those who want to take and use power in their communities.  Who want to change the world. Tools that help them achieve things they didn’t know they could achieve or even knew that they needed to achieve.

Posted in News | 86 Comments

The future and practice of garage politics

Oh no! Here we go again – another year, another leader.  Still we cling, the drowning man, to a way of doing politics that is so very Noughties or perhaps even very Nineties – Eighteen Nineties even.

In response to the 2010/15 disaster we  devised a Board, which is frankly very ‘grown up’ but totally unimaginative in the light of the huge alteration to our reputation, status and standing, as well as being culturally inappropriate to Liberalism.

WANTED:  a politics for the 2020s or even the 2030s, shipped today.

We need to predict the future.   “Hey, if you want to predict the future, make it”?

Good advice. Who said that?

Steve Jobs.

You see, in 2015, I began to wonder how Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX would approach the problems we had.  Watch Musk on some wicked issues here.

People like Musk and Jobs disrupt entrenched thinking. That’s what we need.  

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 32 Comments

Finding our way again

What was it like becoming an activist in 1978? Well, you were given a bundle of newspapers to deliver. No change since then apparently?  You might also be lent a copy of The Theory and Practice of Community Politics, which you thought about, discussed and, importantly, set about acting upon in all the communities to which you belonged.

Neither the people who had developed this new form of Liberalism and fought for the Party to accept it, nor those who followed this theory and practice in the 80s and 90s, would have thought  that forty years later they would be accused of having no values or philosophy and of just callously saying anything to get elected, which is how this kind of activism is attacked today.

The idea of Community Politics was to create a movement.  It was sufficient in many areas to campaign directly in the many communities to which people belong, at work, at home, in their neighbourhoods and in wider non-geographically based communities.  But it also adopted a second avenue (in what was called the Dual Approach) which was to seek election to councils and parliaments where policy could be changed so as to help achieve the central objective – which was to help people take and use power in their communities.

Our philosophy went back to Mill and especially to T.H. Green and from him to the New Liberals.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 76 Comments

Opinion: How power can now shift from Whitehall to Westminster

 

The 2015 Parliament could witness the greatest transfer of power from the Executive (and Whitehall) to the Legislature (and the people’s elected representatives in the House of Commons) in the history of our countries.

Tony Greaves has written here and here seeking to explore how this Parliament might operate.

It takes me back to an afternoon in Winchester in 1986. Hampshire County Council, run by Tories for over 100 years, is about to set its budget. The Tories, until that morning, have the slimmest of majorities, thanks to the Chair’s casting vote, but news swishes through the corridors of County Hall – a Tory has said he will not vote for the Tory Leader of the Council’s budget.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 42 Comments

Opinion: The First Rule of Campaigning

pensionsWe wake today to news that the Government is planning Dutch-style collective pension schemes which the minister of state for pensions,the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, says are “some of the best in the world”. The proposed legislation will include the previously announced removal of tax rules that have prevented pensioners taking more than a quarter of their savings in a cash lump sum.

OK, there is no need for switch off. This piece is not going to be about pensions.  It is about campaigning and in particular about integrated campaigning. The subject has been chosen purely at random.  It is Monday. What has a Liberal Democrat minister announced today?  Ah! Pensions.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 31 Comments

Opinion: Sustaining the Recovery

A year ago to the day, here on LDV, I called the turn in the UK economy. We had experienced a double dip recession (later confirmed) and everyone was battening down the hatches for an unprecedented triple dip.

I wrote then in praise of Chancellor Osborne who the day before had authorized a briefing of two Financial Times journalists. Under the title Osborne to Hand Carney New Powers, they had written, ‘George Osborne’s Budget, will pave the way for Mark Carney, incoming Bank of England governor, to come to the rescue of the economy as …

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Opinion: Son of Plan A – why are we supporting?

Economic policy is always a mixture of fiscal, monetary and political policy.

“Nick, George has come up with another of his jolly good wheezes. You remember that Plan A malarkey ..?”

Well, dear reader, you do remember Plan A, don’t you?

Eliminate the deficit by 2015; keep fingers crossed Expansionary Fiscal Contraction (EFC) works; use a 20:80 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts; provide monetary stimulus; flush out the Labour Party, and keep Vince and the ‘SDPers’ in their box.

Well, it put a spanner in the recovery-works and, with no sign of EFC or King’s stimulus working, it was pretty soon shelved …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments
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Recent Comments

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    @Catherine Jane Crosland "isn’t exactly a candidate for the Nobel peace prize" Leaving aside some dodgy winners of the Peace Prize (Kissinger springs to mind),...
  • User AvatarJane Reed 17th Oct - 9:31am
    Yes!
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    Catherine Jane Crosland, being a pacifist and against all weapons is an interesting and legitimate standpoint. Believing in the necessity of a defence-capability is equally...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 17th Oct - 9:00am
    Katharine - you have brought about a valuable and moving discussion here but it is not enough for the emphasis to be on a victim...
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