Can Lib Dems meet the Labour challenge?

Editor note – this article has been corrected to reflect our opposition to the proposed cut in corporation tax rates…

“Labour is offering a radical plan to rebuild and transform Britain”, Jeremy Corbyn declared at the recent Labour Conference. He said people knew the old way of running things wasn’t working any more, and boldly claimed that Labour had defined “the new common sense”.

Liberal Democrats had already agreed at our Conference, “The current British economy is simply not working for enough people today.” Passing the motion F27 on Jobs and Business, we had resolved “to work towards creating a new economy that really works for everyone.” This followed the declaration in our 2017 Manifesto that “We need a radical programme of investment to boost growth and develop new infrastructure.”

So how do the two programmes compare? The Labour plan described by McDonnell and Corbyn certainly offers radical transformative measures. They demand nationalisation of water, energy, railways and telecommunications. Companies of more than 250 employees are apparently to be obliged to grant 10% of their shares to their workers, to admit worker representatives on their boards and to allow every employee union rights. These and other overtly Socialist plans predictably have been viewed as a threat to capitalism.

We meantime had resolved, in passing motion F27, “Reforming the labour market to give control and choice back to workers, with additional rights for those in the gig economy, and a powerful new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority to protect those in precarious work.” We want a new Companies Act for the 21st Century to oblige large companies fully to reflect the interests of all stakeholders, serve the common good and be accountable for their actions, and for there to be mandatory reporting of pay ratios with “corrective action plans”. On share ownership, we are to seek a big boost to employee ownership by extending the Liberal Democrat ownership trust scheme. 

On green energy policy matters, the Corbyn plan is also highly ambitious, demanding vast increase in renewable energy production and usage, yet seems not very much more progressive in substance than is our own programme, strongly  developed since we gave a lead on this in Government. Our comparable plans for jobs and industry do unsurprisingly seem less radical than Labour’s. However, their plan for employee share ownership has been heavily criticised. It has been pointed out that to give the workforce 10% of the shares would deprive existing shareholders of their rights, deplete general investment in pension schemes, and also be impossible to enforce in multinational companies.

 The economist Will Hutton, writing in the Observer, suggested that another model of ‘stakeholder capitalism’, employee ownership through the employee-owned trust, would better fit private sector business aims, and suggested that McDonnell should propose a new Companies Act. This, of course, is now Liberal Democrat policy. We also have other progressive priorities, including proposing to relieve the strains of business taxes and stimulating investment by replacing Business Rates in England with a Commercial Landowner Levy, while still protecting local authority revenue (F26 passed at Brighton).We will, radically, seek a fairer distribution of wealth by equalising tax treatment of income from wealth and income from work and abolishing inheritance tax, new policies spelt out in detail in the motion F34. It was already our policy to plan to oppose the reduction of Corporation Tax from 20% to 17%.

But we do not propose to commit the vast expenditure that will be required for the several schemes of nationalisation, or to borrow £250 billion as is apparently the Labour plan.  

Jeremy Corbyn claimed in his Leader’s speech that “We are winning the public debate.” If Liberal Democrat policies can be heard and examined, it seems that this need not necessarily be the case.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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80 Comments

  • Michael Cole 7th Oct '18 - 1:05pm

    We must be ruthless in exposing Corbyn’s plans as totally unrealistic and full of unworkable promises (for the reasons outlined in Katherine’s article).

    As far as the media allow, we must present our realistic and sensible policies for reform.

    Our message must be that we are the Party of reform and sanity.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Oct '18 - 1:26pm

    Katherine is clever and principled. Corbyn is canny and opportunistic. So what, most politicians are you say. Well, centre ground is what he now claims, as well as common sense. Both decried in this party as, moderate!

    The radical moderate stance I believe is Liberal Democrat terrain, is radical and moderate.

    We necessarily must often have the both of them. On the economy we must show it is all well and good to say , as Labour are, we can do this…. but if it is overnight likely to cause harm , to the economy, we cannot see it as feasible. Sharesin companies are fine, nationalised railways are too. But the notion of mass nationalisation of energy or telecomunications, even internet sites bandied about, are non starters or unnecessary and most realise it or should.

    The Tories offer little, Labour offer lots. A little of something good is better than a lot of nonsense. We should offer a lot of something good. Like sensible viable solutions.

  • John Marriott 7th Oct '18 - 1:31pm

    @Katharine Pindar
    With May reaching out to moderate Labour voters in the same newspaper as Will Hutton is talking about ‘stakeholder capitalism’, Lib Dems had better get a move on. The trouble is that much, if not most, of the media think of them as an irrelevance. I expect the usual crowd will be arguing the toss if this thread develops in the way ‘philosophical’ threads tend to develop in LDV (just a pity that threads on world events tend not to attract so many comments). What they should give more thought to is how such arguments might gain traction with those people, who probably constitute a majority in our society, who (a) are getting pretty fed up with Brexit, (b) would never dream of joining a political party and (c) get their ‘politics’ from sound bites in the printed and electronic media.

    Door knocking and FOCUS distribution is no substitute for getting your message across on TV, radio or the national newspapers. At the moment, most of the noise is coming from Labour and Tory.

  • A good start would be to challenge the expression “gig economy”. “Precarious work” is a more appropriate way to describe for most employees.

  • David Becket 7th Oct '18 - 2:50pm

    If you look at the detailed policies in our Web Site there is enough there, if anything too much detail. We need sharper, and fewer messages. We need to explore every method of getting them out, including through local parties, and we need some excitement and inspiration in our message. May, Corbyn and Johnson were very good at making their message inspire, we look boring.
    We need to work on presentation rather than waste time and media coverage on reorganising.

  • William Fowler 7th Oct '18 - 3:30pm

    Labour did well last time by having one policy that grabbed people’s attention in a big way – getting rid of student loans etc, the LibDems need something similar but different – I would suggest phasing out council tax (whilst having a sales tax on property sales and an inheritance tax levy on all inherited money – with ten times the rate where companies or trusts have been used to avoid the tax – to get the money back).

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Oct '18 - 3:56pm

    @David Becket on sharper messages.

    Seconded wholeheartedly

  • Katharine has produced a well researched thoughtful article. She has also avoided over the top rhetoric of the ‘my gang is better than your gang’ type.

    What the party should now be doing is to quietly research what common ground there can be with Labour in the event of a hung parliament. Certainly the employee share schemes could be harmonised, nationalising rail need not be expensive if franchises could be allowed to run out… and a common approach to improving welfare is possible.

    The other requirement would be to stop frightening the horses and the children with a J. Corbyn bogeyman. The truth of the matter is that many of his rebellions in the Blair/Brown years saw him in the same lobby as the Lib Dems on human rights issues.

  • Peter Martin 7th Oct '18 - 4:28pm

    “But we do not propose to commit the vast expenditure that will be required for the several schemes of nationalisation”

    We’ve probably all noticed over the years as one industry after another has been privatised that there money received doesn’t result in any extra spending by the Government. It’s just an asset swap of shares for cash. Providing the swap is at a fair price, and which I know isn’t always likely to be a correct assumption, nothing changes on the Govt balance sheet. It’s neither any better nor any worse off than previously except for the administration costs of making the change.

    So, therefore, it must follow that if privatisations don’t raise any spending money that nationalisations don’t cost anything. Apart from the admin costs of making the change.

    If anyone doubts this to be true they might like to consider that the Attlee government managed to nationalise upwards of 25% of the UK economy when it was supposedly bankrupt after WW2. It could only do that if it didn’t really cost anything.

    I’m not making an argument for either Nationalisation or Privatisation. A political party has to do what it thinks is best. It’s more a political issue than an economic one.

  • David Evershed 7th Oct '18 - 4:37pm

    It is better for employees to own shares in a spread of companies rather than having the bulk of their shares in the company in which they work.

    Otherwise if their employer goes bust they lose their job and their share investment in the company.

    Preferably employees own shares via a pension fund, providing both a spread of investments and a future pension.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '18 - 5:30pm

    But the principle of working together with other ‘stakeholders’ of a company will be lost, David Evershed, if workers only think of the profit to be gained from having shares from elsewhere. David Becket, I agree we need sharp messages, but it seems to me our ideas of replacing Business Rates (a policy I tried out on a Tory businesswoman friend of mine who liked it), and of equalising taxation of wealth and work income are striking policies which could catch attention. David Raw: I think you are quite right, David, about quietly working out what common ground we have with Labour, and I hope that is going on, though I fear that an early General Election is unlikely to happen.

    Thanks to everyone who has responded this afternoon – please let us continue to discuss. I would particularly like to ask what we can put over on the doorsteps, though I suppose/hope that the party’s big social media drive is meanwhile putting out effective messages. Does anyone know if that’s the case?

  • John Marriott 7th Oct '18 - 6:18pm

    @Katharine Pindar
    According to the ‘Penhaligon Rule’ you’ve got eight seconds to get your message across ‘on the doorstep. Without a national profile you will struggle. Hence my view that, to make a real impact, the Lib Dems need someone, or something, to attract attention. If only the electoral pacts that existed over a century ago between the Liberal Party and the fledgling Labour Party could be replicated today. These saw, for example, the election of James Ramsay McDonald for Labour and Henry Broadhurst for the Liberals in Leicester in 1906, which kept out the Tories for many years before WW1. It might work with the Green Party today; but Labour doesn’t do pacts any more, does it?

  • Martin Land 7th Oct '18 - 6:54pm

    One million extra homes for young people: our children and grandchildren.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '18 - 7:05pm

    Hmm, John, without wanting to divert this thread to history, I had an idea that pacts with other parties, whether ours was the greater or the lesser one, generally ended with us being swallowed up! (Animal images, of pythons, or of lions, and Aesop’s Fables, wander through my mind!) One thing I will never accept for our democratic party, though, is waiting for a saviour to appear. In any case Vince has more party support than either May or Corbyn can hope for from their troops; and the Chesterfield local success just goes to show that even 80-year-olds can thrive – which I already knew anyway from my own constituency party!

  • Steve Trevethan 7th Oct '18 - 7:08pm

    Might less violent foreign policies gain us a useful “speciality” in our attempts to win the support of our fellow citizens, and be a proper thing to do?
    The interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc have done those countries savage harms and have seriously damaged Europe and ourselves by creating migrations of Biblical proportions.

  • Peter Martin 7th Oct '18 - 7:46pm

    Maybe slightly off topic. But for a supposedly pro-EU party, which looks to build a successful ‘Europe’, the Lib Dems seem highly UK-centric and somewhat oblivious of what’s actually happening across the channel. This article, commendable as it might well be, is no exception.

    Do the names Conte, Tria and Salvini mean anything? They should. If I’m right there’s a huge problem brewing in Italy. These could well be the names to watch in the next few months. Corbyn, May, Farage, Cable et al will be merely onlookers.

  • Sean Hyland 7th Oct '18 - 8:06pm

    Nice post and good comments. Yes some good policies but where is the “kicker”. Problem is always going to be lack of mainstream media attention. Doorstep politics has its value but will only be a steady “drip-drip” of increasing support and acceptance that hopefully eventually builds to a surge.
    So what is the the one to “kick the doors open”? the one that gets the media and people talking? Valuable though it may eventually be internal re-organisation is the only thing from conference that got noted in the media and some think of the EU peoples vote. Got to be something from housing, jobs, health etc. One or two short snappy sayings that get people thinking. Then you have to hope that people will have the belief to trust what is being said.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '18 - 9:12pm

    David Raw: “The truth of the matter is that many of his rebellions in the Blair/Brown years saw him in the same lobby as the Lib Dems on human rights issues.”
    Corbyn’s concern for human rights is very selective. His knee-jerk anti-western approach to foreign policy means he turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by regimes to which he is somewhat sympathetic. I would not trust him to speak out against abuses in Iran, Venezuela, Syria or Russia, for instance.

    The Lib Dem approach following an election result where the parliamentary arithmetic allows for a coalition involving Labour and Lib Dem (plus maybe one or more of Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru) should be to do what Brigitte does in the first series of Borgen, i.e. say we are happy to work with Labour, but not with the present Labour leadership. With the Tories, I cannot see how a deal would be possible at all.

  • Phil Beesley 7th Oct '18 - 9:25pm

    @Martin Land: “One million extra homes for young people: our children and grandchildren.”

    A million houses? Where?

    Greenbelt land! Let’s build new towns without upsetting anyone. OK that doesn’t work.

    Brown field land! Let’s take all of the disused land in towns and cities, and build there. Some of it is used as informal play space by kids, some of it has been taken over by nature, some of it is too toxic. Yeah, that doesn’t work either.

    Middle of Nowhere! Ask the residents of Skelmersdale about how it works.

    It’s a great policy but you have to change a lot of opinions — and change a lot of things — to achieve it.

  • Old Liberal 7th Oct '18 - 10:25pm

    @Katharine, but no-one out there (except LibDem anoracks) are listening, no-one (except a very few LibDem anoracks) knows what F27 really means, and absolutely nobody (including Lib Dem anoracks) have heard of the Liberal Democrat ownership trust scheme, which is designed to sound like building on top of something already there, but it actually only exists in the minds of a few policy wonks.

    As for “mandatory reporting of pay ratios with corrective action plans” – people want action not monitoring and plans, “cuts to corporation tax” – most people believe companies don’t pay enough tax now, Green energy, “strongly developed since we gave a lead on this in Government” except no-one noticed,

    Sadly yet another in a series of ‘wouldn’t if be nice if only …’ articles, designed to make people feel good about themselves despite our continuing failure to campaign on anything other than Brexit that is remotely noticeable. Until our leaders do something remotely interesting very soon, we will continue to decline and all the progress made since Jo Grimond in the 1950s will be finally gone.

  • David Becket 7th Oct '18 - 10:57pm

    @Old Liberal
    Yes and yes again.I do not understand what is wrong with the leadership of this party, that is the leader and those around him. Have they been there too long. Can they only think of wasting time with supporters registers. The meetings being arranged should be about policy, not internal party organisation. We will get nowhere until there is a revamp at the top, if it is not too late by then.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '18 - 11:12pm

    On housing and health policies, colleagues, I personally don’t think we’re distinctive enough to stand out. There are, however, a lot of desperate needs, such as restored financing of local government services, and increased and expedited welfare payments, where we should surely be taking a lead, in campaigns which can be both national and local.

    I doubt if Labour with its top-down policy decision-making could achieve that. Perhaps we need more working together of our excellent local councillors and their teams with national spokespeople, in campaigning for better services and more compassionate welfare arrangements. For instance we could be demanding ending delays in UC payments, and for general acceptance of continuation of needs for PIP or ESA. From reform of regressive council tax to abolition of the need for food banks, we should build on our firm foundations, doing good and winning friends.

  • Old Liberal makes some substantial points with which, as a fellow old Liberal, I agree.

    I’m afraid that if F27 appeared on the TV programme ‘Pointless’, more people would identify it as a Fokker Friendship F27 turbojet airliner.

    Old Lib makes a powerful point about Jo Grimond – who saved the party from terminal decline and sparked off a refreshing revival of radical policies through the Universities and with powerful inspiring rallies throughout the country. He also sparkled on TV.

    I’m afraid the party is more often seen now as tired and old with more spresm than exoticism. The one trick pony of Brexit has drowned everything else out.- if delivered in the funereal tones of an undertaker… you can fill in the rest…. it’s a turn off.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Oct '18 - 11:34pm

    Old Liberal, great, just seen and love your challenge! I did give a few details of what F27, etc., covered, and suggested the most outstanding points from the recent policy motions, but your exasperation is stimulating! Still, as an older Liberal myself, I find it heartening that so many councillor teams at local level, and so many senior people at national level, are working so hard for our advance. People are being won over at grassroots level to believe in us again, and the general disgust at our self-serving and uncaring Government, plus distrust of the dagger beneath the cloak of Labour, can yet empower us nationally. There is all to play for!

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct '18 - 2:03am

    A mistake! Sorry, folks. There was one sentence near the end of my article I was doubtful about and checked my extensive written notes on before it was published. But someone has mentioned it, and going back to the Manifesto, I see I read my note wrongly. We didn’t plan to reduce Corporation Tax from 20% to 17%, bur to REVERSE that ‘unfair and unjustified’ Tory tax cut among others. Mea culpa! Of course that makes more sense. Too much late-night checking on Saturday, corrected late on Sunday night. Apologies.

  • Martin Land 8th Oct '18 - 7:12am

    @ Phil Beesley. Currently it is estimated that builders are land banking space for 600,000. Add that to that land surplus held by government, Mod, councils, network rail….
    It’s just a case of ‘persuading’ them all to build them. Confiscation ought to do that!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Oct '18 - 8:11am

    Katharine, I know this is something you have previously said you disagree with, but I do feel that one way we could “meet the Labour challenge”, would be if we were to have a policy of introducing a Universal Basic Income. This could be our USP. It would be bound to be popular, and would certainly get us talked about!
    A Universal Basic Income is a way of ensuring that no-one is “enslaved by poverty” – something that none of Labour’s policies would really achieve.

  • For the economy, we can begin with this:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/articles/aninternationalcomparisonofgrossfixedcapitalformation/2017-11-02

    https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/uk-near-bottom-oecd-rankings-national-investment

    UK ranks close to the bottom of OECD countries for economic investment/GFCF, both in public and private investments. This means, our economic policies for the next election must involve boosting both public and private investment in our economy. Talking about policies with specific numerical targets will make us more credible. In this case, our target should be raising share in GFCF in GDP to at least 20-22%.

    Hope that you guys will actually read this article, since low investment is one of the root causes of all our economic problems.

    Another importany issue:
    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/08/if-the-uk-economy-is-a-wreck-why-are-jobs-and-exports-booming/
    This article is quite pro-Brexit, but there is one point that is true: “Britain is one of the least mechanised countries in the developed world”. Libdem should champion policies that boost the use of automation and mechanization and energy efficiency in our manufacturing industry.

    My point is that we should also emphasize our national physical capital and means of production. They are a direct determinant of national productivity. Education and skills development is about human capital, but physical capital is also crucial.

  • I am really uncertain as to whether the growing(?) disconnect between perceptions of political parties and their policies is an advantage or disadvantage at the moment. If polls are to be believed, Labour policies are running ahead of the Labour Party and its Leader at the moment. That needs to inform the “quiet research” that the ever sensible David Raw recommends.

  • John Marriott 8th Oct '18 - 9:34am

    ‘Old Liberal’ just about sums up my feelings as well. Oh, Jo Grimond, how we could do with those impeccably rounded vowels today – and that goes for the likes of David Penhaligon as well (but possibly not Jeremy Thorpe). What Jo said about marching towards the “sound of gunfire” is what the Lib Dems should be doing; not hiding behind conference motions and the kind of causes, while worthy in themselves, that barely impinge on the lives of most people. As David Raw has repeatedly said, going on about Brexit does make the Lib Dems sound like a ‘one trick pony’, and one that very few of the electorate appear to want to back.

    I suppose that the much vaunted “Demand better” slogan is a sign of new found machismo in the party of “brown bread and sandals”; but unless you back it up with positive action it has no more impact than the Defence Secretary’s feeble “Go away” to Putin and co. “It doesn’t have to be like this” as an alternative might extend that Penhaligon “eight second” window of opportunity by getting the recipient to ask; “And what would you do?”

    What it all boils down to is an ability to see beyond and even to venture outside your comfort zone, which many Liberal ‘anoraks’ appear to be incapable of doing. To do that requires a willingness to compromise (always a dirty word in some circles). However, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? As Mick Jagger sang; “You can’t always get what you want”.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct ’18 – 9:12pm………………..Corbyn’s concern for human rights is very selective. His knee-jerk anti-western approach to foreign policy means he turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by regimes to which he is somewhat sympathetic. I would not trust him to speak out against abuses in Iran, Venezuela, Syria or Russia, for instance………………………….

    I’d suggest that Corbyn’s stance on human rights and foreign interventions are far more consistent than ours.
    When Saddam and Assad were ‘friends of the west’ he spoke against their use of torture; in his Radio 4 interview (after the Salisbury poisonings) he qualified his remarks about still talking with Putin with the words, ““And I’d challenge him on human rights in Russia, challenge him on these issues and challenge him on that whole basis of that relationship.”.
    Regarding Iran,;I suggest you watch his interview with Andrew Marr where he openly and unconditionally condemned the regime for it’s human rights abuses. BTW.. if you know what is actually happening in that country you’re about the only one ho does; far too many have leapt in without knowing. Tarek Fatah, a supposed expert, tweeted a video of Iraq protesters which turned out to be a clip from Saudi Arabian protesters and even Kenneth Roth ( executive director of Human Rights Watch) posted remarks about his support for an ‘Iraq anti-government rally’ and later was forced to admit that it was, in fact, an Iraq pro-government rally.

    As for ‘foreign wars’; Corbyn, again, is far more consistent than us. We, when in opposition, opposed Iraq and yet, in government, supported both the Libyan and the Syrian ‘adventures’; Corbyn opposed all of them.

  • Peter Hirst 8th Oct '18 - 11:31am

    Regarding public services, we have a game winner in being aligned with neither private or public ownership. We should cry out loud that we are above this pety though gigantic choice. At the very least, we should maintain the option of reverting any public service to the public sector if that is best for the tax payer and consumer. Likewise we should be constantly looking to the private sector to take over nationalised industries or parts of them if it is in the public interest. Perhaps an independent body could monitor and advise concerning this area.

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Oct '18 - 12:35pm

    “At the very least, we should maintain the option of reverting any public service to the public sector if that is best for the tax payer and consumer. ”

    It seems to me either pubic or private ownership is potentially disastrous without effective and independent regulation. But the issue is – who chooses the regulators?

  • Peter Watson 8th Oct '18 - 12:36pm

    @Peter Hirst “we have a game winner in being aligned with neither private or public ownership”
    Unless the party can identify clearly which things it believes should be in private ownership and which in public ownership (and importantly, why) that position just looks like fence-sitting intended to avoid scaring Labour and Tory voters rather than a game winner 🙁

    Even those who agree with a mixture of private and state ownership might fall out over the details … nationalise the railways?, allow for-profit schools?, etc.

    To capitalise on such a position I think it would be necessary for the party to be very clear and explicit about the criteria for choosing between public and private ownership in any given situation, but then you risk ending up with something that requires much more than that “eight second” window of opportunity to explain.

    That pretty much sums up the unfortunate position of centrist/moderate politics in general, which often seems to boil down to “trust us to navigate a sensible path between those fools on either side of us” and perhaps that is why rebuilding trust in the Lib Dems is vital for the party.

  • Peter Martin 8th Oct '18 - 12:44pm

    @ Catherine,

    “a Universal Basic Income. This could be our USP. It would be bound to be popular, and would certainly get us talked about!”

    It might get you ‘talked about’. I doubt if it would ‘be popular’.

    I do sometimes test out these kinds ideas on a group of people I usually talk to about football in the pub. Of the 6 other people in the group, none had ever heard of it and thought it was pie-in-the-sky talk. They were unanimous in their opinion that people should only get benefits from the State if they needed them and if they were willing to accept any reasonable offer of employment.

    They didn’t use terms like shirkers and they knew that UK benefits weren’t huge and that people tended not to be treated with any respect when they were looking for work and they didn’t agree with that. So they weren’t the worst type of Tory voters although I suspect some might vote that way.

    They were slightly more sympathetic to my suggestion that the State could offer everyone a few hours of guaranteed work, if they needed it, but I do have to admit that they weren’t totally sold on that idea either so I would have some work to do!

    Look, try the same exercise for yourself. It will save you a lot of trouble with your voters later.

  • Neil Sandison 8th Oct '18 - 1:01pm

    Getting messages across and doing so that they cut through is an art form not a science .This is why we need to ensure our next leader is a communicator .This is not to decry Vince who is great on detailed policy but a little too self deprecating which makes the party appear a little too celebral and weak and not very dynamic .Agree with Old Liberal ,David Becket and David Raw and least Jo Grimmond knew how to march towards the sound of gun fire . And thats what worries me a popular smiley MP people like picked by the supporters club is no substitute for a genuine leader who inspires we should as members pick carefully.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct '18 - 1:41pm

    In view of today’s fresh warnings and demands on climate change, it’s good that Jeremy Corbyn is advocating radical measures, and that our own policy is so like-minded that I cut out a large paragraph describing and comparing the two. I’ll maybe come back to some of the details later on, though short of time just now.

    @ Peter Watson. Good points, Peter, though it is not yet time, I think, to be weighing up all the details of what we could support on nationalisation. Yes, I do think we will navigate a sensible path when we work at it! 🙂

  • Sue Sutherland 8th Oct '18 - 3:08pm

    Thank you for summarising these policies so succinctly Katharine. One of the problems of recognition that I believe we have is that we come up with policies but no one really knows why. Some members would say it’s because we produce evidence based policies, others that we tackle unfairness and injustice and stand up for the individual when they are oppressed by the majority. I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that it’s because we have a different view of society than both Tories and Labour. Both these parties see life as a competition with the rich and powerful on one side and the work force on the other.
    I just don’t think we see politics in that way. I know you support the authors of the Spirit Level, Katherine, which I haven’t read but understand that it talks about creating a healthy society. Under the Tory/Labour model this is unimportant, what matters is getting wealth and power for your own group. However we Lib Dems believe in communities. It’s important to us that communities thrive and for them to do so all the members of that community should be operating at optimum capacity. We want to see a society in which opportunity is available to all and where no one is trapped. We recognise that we need entrepreneurs to create the wealth that enables a community to survive, but we dislike it when that wealth is grabbed and held on to in order to benefit generations of descendants of that original talented person. We want new entrepreneurs to be enabled to benefit the community.
    We have two strands in the party, economic Liberals and social democratic liberals but we all want to ensure the economic viability of our local, national and wider communities. The Grenfell tower fire shows the devastation possible when a local community is so polarised that the powerful have little comprehension of the lives of those over whom they exercise control. It isn’t always the poor who are trapped by ignorance but they are almost always the ones that pay the price. I believe our policies reveal that we try to create a balanced successful community and rather than working to undermine others we will help them to contribute to the best of their abilities and receive fair rewards for their contribution.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Oct '18 - 3:35pm

    So many good suggestions in this thread which Katharine leads so well in.

    Catherine Jane

    is correct to mention universal basic income. It could be very worthwhile if handled properly but does not sit with open immigration other than marriage , or with EU membership. A return to an immigration policy allowing every spose in regardless of income, but no ubi till five years of marriage, might work, but not under EU norm. We need to be holistic.

    Peter

    is correct this might not be popular until at least my points are considered. But the system of DWP is hideous and makes me yearn for a change of policy, and government, I favour the abolition of this dept as now construed.

    Sue

    If we had more of this we could do a lot more as a party. I despair as do many, at how flat the oomph level, by our spokespeople, more so, our media.

  • @ Sue Sutherland that’s an excellent summary, Sue.

    @ john Marriott. Funny you mention Jo and the Gunfire speech, John. We were in Orkney last week and I paid my respects to the boss and Laura in Finstown cemetery. I also discovered that the full text of the speech is available if you Google it. A well rounded civilised speech setting out what liberalism is and ought to be – all with fire and humour – and I can still hear him in my head declaiming “We in the Liberal Party are members of a radical party !! We are a party of reform !”

    @ Katharine a great article and thread edited with kindness and courtesy. Now get your singing voice on top form.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct '18 - 5:29pm

    Are we as a party more able to foster a healthy society than the other parties, Sue? That’s a wonderful thought-provoking comment from you, thank you. We do certainly believe in and want to foster communities, and I guess our successful councillors do a lot of that kind of work. At the same time, there are probably increasing numbers of individuals in our society who don’t feel part of any community, or to whom their only community may be their family, and we have to care for their interests too.

    The other parties pay lip-service to such ideas as you propose, but as you say their priorities are otherwise. However, the rise of the Labour Party is a particular threat to us, since they do recognise the deep ills of poverty and inequality, and I suspect it is their better instincts to fight such evils that led so many Liberal -minded people to vote for them instead of us at the last General Election. I can better credit the fine words of their leader at the recent Conference than those of Theresa May.

    But as you suggest, Sue, they can’t be good enough. Notably our own Manifesto last summer wanted more money spent on stopping welfare cuts and standstills than did theirs. And while Jeremy Corbyn apparently wants more power for workers, in the Labour Party as well as in their workplaces, where is the democracy in production of policy in their party? If the leader falls, will the policy collapse with him, just as happens with the Tories? We by contrast have the solid basis of active participation by members in producing the good policies we pass. I think it is shallow to sneer at these policies, rather than analysing and using and developing them, and to call uselessly for new leaders, when there are no supermen or women around at present.

    Thank you, colleagues and friends alike, for your valued contributions here.

  • Sue Sutherland 8th Oct '18 - 6:10pm

    Thank you for your kind responses, Katharine, David and Lorenzo. I think we have done ourselves a disservice by thinking that community politics just belongs to local politics. I think it is a way of viewing national politics too, that we Lib Dems do automatically and that makes sense of our different stance from Labour.
    Take nationalisation for example. We were disturbed as a party when the supply of water was privatised but less so by the British Gas takeover. Water is essential to life and I think it should be run as a community resource rather than as an opportunity to make a profit. Nationalising the railways? Open to evidence based policy unless rail companies are so incompetent that they cease to provide the transport needed for our communities to work effectively. So they require much more regulation to ensure this happens. Prisons being operated by private companies? I would have thought a definite no because they are part of the system by which the community protects itself, so they should be operated by the community for the community.
    I don’t think this operates against our belief in the freedom of the individual. Communities require give and take and no one should be obliged to conform to the will of the majority against their conscience and basic needs, just as we would defend the individual against an overpowering government.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Oct '18 - 7:10pm

    expats: If you are referring to this clip
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_geCsu4D3Uw
    then I find Corbyn’s condemnation of the Iranian regime somewhat hollow, in the context of the clip. At the start of the clip, when Marr raises a report by Amnesty International report on human rights abuses in Iran, Corbyn interrupts him with, “You’re spending too much time reading The Daily Mail.” Now I do not easily associate Amnesty International with The Daily Mail, and it is quite clear that what Corbyn said then is a stock response to anything that he would find uncomfortable, like matters of his association with Iran. He is also rather not very truthful about his association with Press TV, and his having ever taken money at all from a regime’s state propaganda channel is troubling enough.
    By “consistent” you seem to mean knee-jerk opposition to any western military intervention, but this is only consistent in the stopped-clock sense. Lib Dems opposed the intervention in Iraq for good reasons, and also supported intervention in Syria (and, many years earlier, in Bosnia and Kosovo) for good reasons.

  • Do I remember from way back when that profit sharing for all employees in a company was party policy?

  • Peter Martin 8th Oct '18 - 9:15pm

    On the question of nationalisations and privatisations, would I be correct in thinking that no matter how much Labour did of the former, and no matter how much the Tories did of the latter, that Lib Dems wouldn’t be in favour of doing anything to restore a sensible balance (ie a genuinely mixed economy) if they ever came into government?

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct '18 - 10:09pm

    Returning to issues of climate change and green policies, both we and Labour are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030, and to zero by 2050. We both want more than half of energy used in Britain to be generated by renewables by 2030., with Labour emphasising that thousands of jobs will thus be created.

    After that proposals differ somewhat in approach. Lib Dems in our Manifesto deplored the cutbacks in support for green energy producers by the Conservatives since our backing of them in the Coalition, and demanded restoration of Government support for solar projects, with onshore wind ‘in appropriate locations’. We want heavy research and investment, for instance in cutting-edge technologies, and a carbon capture and storage programme. We seek restoration of support for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, and expansion of community energy schemes, encouraged by local councils.

    Mr Corbyn’s plan is to doubt the number of onshore wind farms, increase offshore production seven-fold, and triple the output of solar energy, with a grand vision of solar PV panels being fitted on ‘every viable roof in the country’! His party was already committed to borrowing £250 bn, some of which is to be used for insulating homes, with people on low incomes and in social housing to be upgraded free, with another grand vision of making every home energy-efficient within 30 years. Landlords, however, would be compelled to comply without compensation.

    We also intend home insulation to be a major target, calling for 4m properties to receive ‘insulation retrofits’ by 2022, especially fuel-poor households. Altogether our programme seems ambitious and wide-ranging (it also includes aiming to save 40,000 deaths a year through an Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution) without the extravagance and compulsion of Labour’s. Another win perhaps for the Extremist Moderates?! – well worth promoting, certainly.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 5:49am

    john boss: Yes, our plan being that employees would keep the profits being shared. Whereas Labour’s plan is that the profits are handed to the government.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Oct ’18 – 10:09pm…… We also intend home insulation to be a major target, calling for 4m properties to receive ‘insulation retrofits’ by 2022, especially fuel-poor households. Altogether our programme seems ambitious and wide-ranging (it also includes aiming to save 40,000 deaths a year through an Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution) without the extravagance and compulsion of Labour’s. Another win perhaps for the Extremist Moderates?! – well worth promoting, certainly…………..

    “Fine words butter no parsnips”, as my mother used to say.

    The LibDems and Labour parties seem to want the same things and yet you criticise Corbyn/Labour; why?
    The major difference is that Labour puts ACTUAL figures/costs/implementation plans whilst ours are nice, vague aspirations without the detail (which is where the ‘devil’ resides).You specifically attack Labour’s ‘extravagance and compulsion’ but these are the very things which are needed to make radical things happen; the post war NHS and council housing schemes are perfect examples.

    I am not surprised by the lack of detail as, in your opening post,…… “The current British economy is simply not working for enough people today.” Passing the motion F27 on Jobs and Business, we had resolved “to work towards creating a new economy that really works for everyone.” This followed the declaration in our 2017 Manifesto that “We need a radical programme of investment to boost growth and develop new infrastructure.”………………..

    Again, Long in aspirational rhetoric; short in detail..

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Oct '18 - 9:35am

    That’s such an extraordinary attack, Expats, that I wonder if you are actually playing the agent provocateur card to keep the debate going, rather than believing what you have written. Both ours and the Labour plans must obviously be aspirations at present, but there is nothing vague or vain about ours. You can’t expect much detail in a 600-word article, but if you go back to the paper from which the Jobs and Business motion F28 was derived, Policy Paper 133 Good Jobs, Better Businesses, Stronger Communities, Proposals for a new economy that really works for everyone, you will find 60 A-five pages of detail there. That paper was the product of two years of study by a Lib Dem working group which itself had expertise and took in much from others, kept up with the changing facets of the economy and at every stage consulted members and invited further consultation. Solid research and study and thought went into that. Just as our Manifesto was no sudden compilation of popular ideas, but derived from party policies similarly thoughtfully researched over the years.

    As for the Labour plans, I don’t know if as you say they have worked out details and costs, but the aspirations are enormous: such as, 85% of British energy to come from renewables by 2030 creating some 400,000 jobs, double the number of on-shore wind farms, triple the output of solar energy, solar PV panels on every viable roof in the country – I only ask, who are the dreamers here?

  • “One million extra homes for young people: our children and grandchildren.”
    [Martin Land 7th Oct ’18 – 6:54pm]

    I would be very careful about this style of claim.
    We were building homes in the 1980’s for “our children and grandchildren” so why is there a housing problem now when those children and grandchildren and now looking to buy a house?
    The way to ensure there are homes for OUR children and grandchildren is to manage the population down to sustainable levels – getting back to 1998 level would be a start – remember we really need to be targeting a population of circa 35m by 2050… [Aside: and yes I’m under no illusion as what this means – given our current politic’s it is more likely that we will crash and burn.]

  • Innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 11:19am

    What both the LibDem and Labour proposals have in common is that both are 100% employee rights focused and invoke no benefit for employers looking to either start, or expand, wealth creating activities. Far from it, they are just yet more obligations on employers. More duties, more burdens, more costs, more distractions.
    A massive investment in solar could create 400,000 jobs (and leave a huge debt for our grandchildren to repay). However, none of those will be in Britain as we don’t make photovoltaics (or wind turbines for that matter) so all will be imported. We don’t make the inverters either (or even the wires to connect them up). As with all daft Keynesian policies they will certainly boost an economy. Just not ours. Someone else’s.
    I deny being one of those ‘agent provocateurs’ I just aim for the true stuff that many don’t want to read. I expect the time honoured response from the usual voices will be to stick their fingers in their ears and sing “La, la, la. We’re not listening!”.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Oct '18 - 1:59pm

    Our party is not anti-business, Innocent Bystander: we want to support responsible and forward-looking companies. For example, we want heavy Government support for companies developing ‘cutting-edge technologies’, and a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to mobilise investment into low-carbon and sustainable infrastructure businesses. Believing that an economy with a greater diversity of types of business will be more competitive, resilient and productive, we will want Goverment also to encourage more mutuals, co-operatives, social enterprisess and community-interest companies; and it is our policy to promote regional and local enterprises as much as possible. For smaller and medium companies, our proposal to replace business rates in England, which we agree is an unacceptable burden, with a Commercial Landowner Levy based solely on the land value of commercial sites rather than their entire capital value, should be especially welcome to tenants and stimulate investment. That also was in a motion passed at Brighton, F26 Taxing Land Not Investment. It is just not true that our plans are entirely employee-rights focused: we want, as has been summarised, ‘a new economy that really works for everyone’.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Oct ’18 – 9:35am…

    Katharine, but I have read the Policy and, in the 60 pages, the number of actual figures can be counted on the fingers of one hand..The nearest I found was £750m being 25% of a revised apprenticeship levy by 2010. and a reference to more investment in a £43bn low carbon and renewables sector. As for the rest it consists almost entirely of ‘intend’, ‘examine’, ‘encourage’ and ‘learn lessons’…

    If you consider my comments to be over-critical, so be it; but I note you ignore my reference to the really radical post war NHS and council housing schemes.

    What is needed is a seismic shift in how the UK works and future priorities. That will need change to be on a par with the Atlee and Bevan years. Warm words, no matter how well intentioned, won’t make it happen.

  • David Becket 9th Oct '18 - 3:20pm

    On a slight change of track. 24hrs after the most damming report ever on the dangers of climate change what from our party?
    On our web site, not a tweet
    On LDV not a tweet
    One small tweet on our twitter
    We should be shouting from the rooftops.

    As I have said, along with others, the centre of this party needs to wake up before it is too late

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Oct '18 - 3:35pm

    This recent exchange and thread shows

    We need either the US system of two broad parties, we thus would never have been in coalition with the Tories, rather a party centre left one with Labour, ie we here seen as in the US the Democrats. Labour would never have moved left but the centre left , as with the Democratic party , thus an in many ways, broad party.

    We if not that, need pr so we can emerge with exciting policies and implement them often without being traduced in representation in the number of mps. We would be like our colleagues throughout Liberal International.

    We should, if we read expats and Katharine, conclude, if we believe the former, much of this party should have merged with Labour. If the latter, we need real change in levels of publicity and top dogs, as we are a Brexit or anti party, not much else in ways any person might know.

    And thus it is David Becket who should now be heard herein too…

  • John Boss – Yes. The Liberals voted for profit sharing in 1949….but if John McDonnell thinks it’s radical and novel that’s fine!

  • Innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 4:06pm

    “heavy Government support for companies ”
    Katharine,
    It’s the naivety that’s so dispiriting. Have you any idea how that works? Do you think the govt can hand taxpayers money to company A ? Won’t companies B, C, D and E all scream blue murder that the playing field has been tilted against them? If we stay in the EU it would be illegal as there is a Europe wide playing field. Have you heard of the OJEU?
    Govt funds have be used ‘obliquely’ in a way that doesn’t favour one player. So that is where the scalpers move in and soak the innocent politician’s money with schemes and programmes (all of which misfire).
    Also, does anyone think the move from rates to landowner levy make the slightest difference to who will end up paying?

  • Laurence Cox 9th Oct '18 - 4:26pm

    I hope that our Party is better than Labour in this area:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/09/short-contracts-forcing-labour-staff-to-use-food-banks-insider-claims

    How we treat our paid employees is entirely within our control as a Party.

  • David Evershed 9th Oct '18 - 4:57pm

    I agree with David Raw about profit sharing as an employee incentive.

    However, as I stated earlier in this thread, worker ownership in the company for which they work is not necesarily a good thing because when the company is in trouble the worker’s job and the worker’s saving are both at risk. Just stick to annual profit sharing as a bonus to regular wages.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Oct '18 - 6:02pm

    Yes. colleagues, agreed, we need our party leaders to shout out about our good policies. There was a ‘tweet’ of sorts on LDV, David Becket, since I responded to the Climate Change frightening report yesterday with comments at 1.41 and, longer version, at 10.09 pm, drawing attention to our relevant policies. We’ve been speaking loudly about climate change and green issues ever since we were in Coalition, but we do need co-ordinated national responses from us.

    Critics, give us a bit of power again and you will soon see solid flesh on the bones we have laid down. Meantime, just try comparing our solid well-researched policies with the feeble catch-up efforts Mrs May was despairingly promoting, and the means we put forward to pay for ours compared with the hopeless dilemma of the Tories’ attempts to reduce the deficit while making a few concessions – not that those concessions will do anything to relieve the desperate poverty of so many families in Britain today. And compare Labour’s extravagant promises, and ask what bases THOSE are built on!

  • Innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 6:11pm

    As I said, “La, la, la”.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Oct '18 - 1:46pm

    Does it amount to this, that we don’t think WE can challenge Labour, to win wards and seats from them? Even now when many of their adherents still doubt if Mr Corbyn can ever be PM, and when many voters cannot abide the thought of that possibility? If we wait as so many probably do for a more moderate centre-left leader to replace him, what chance will we have then, as progressives and moderates alike settle back in relief to vote Labour?

    Our chance is surely now. Now when so many fear that dagger beneath the Labour cloak, the kind of red-blooded Socialism that Lib Dems in Liverpool knew only too well when Militant ruled there. It can be glimpsed in threats of compulsion, whether to oust centrist Labour MPs, or to promise to force landlords to make their premises energy-efficient within a certain time-frame without compensation.

    We know the divisions which Labour are covering up, and maybe we do now have to be more vocal in expressing our opposition to their Socialist programme.

    We can point to our own programme as better, not only in our own minds but as more likely to appeal to a majority of voters. And we can point to their unprincipled approach to Brexit, so deliberately evasive at a time when a decisive lead is needed, that even the wise Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer admits he doesn’t know how Labour will vote when the crunch comes in Parliament next month.

    For myself, I am stopping thinking about any future accord with Labour in Government. I am thinking it is time for us to oppose them fervently, and think more about our messages to do so, both locally and nationally. Do you agree, fellow members?

  • No!

    There are two parties capable of forming a government and we aren’t one. We already know what a Tory government has done to the infrastructure and to vast numbers of the population. Corbyn’s ‘Socialism’ is far more in keeping with that of most of our European neighbours than the ‘red-blooded Socialism’ that you paint.

    As a volunteer for helping rough sleepers (not just one night a year) I see what this government’s policies have done; especially ‘Universal Credit’…Before someone tells me what a great idea it was and how we, as a party, bear no responsibility for its effects because “it is only the Tory implementation that is at fault’; remember that the clear signs of a ‘disaster waiting to happen’were there before the very first roll-out.

    As for “force landlords to make their premises energy-efficient within a certain time-frame without compensation”…I have seen what often passes for ‘housing’ for those one step up from the streets and it isn’t pleasant. I’m sure such landlords just need to be asked nicely to make such places suitable for inclusion in ‘Home and Garden’.

    Still, let’s join in the Corbyn bashing and see what the country looks like for many after another decade of ” Caring Conservatism”.

    My last post on this thread.

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Oct '18 - 3:56pm

    My own advice would be to target the 10% appropriation of company assets as being the first step to a Corbyn/McDonnell vision of a Venezuelan style economy. “When will Momentum come for the other 90%??” would be my strapline.
    I am regular reader of Morning Star and if I controlled LibDem resource I would put some nice, sharp researchers to go through the hundreds of back issues in which he has praised Venezuela and use his own words against him.
    The objective should be to unpick what they will try and do most, which is to hide Karl Marx in the broom cupboard until the polls close.
    However, I stand by my posts. There is only obligations and duties for businesses in both party’s economic offering and to claim the opposite is an attempt to delude the electorate, and they won’t be.
    I have tried to explain that ‘support’ can not have the meaning you impute, Governments are extremely constrained as to the support they can give before they trigger the anti-competitive subsidy challenge, whether it be ‘cutting-edge technologies’ ( a la LibDem) or coal or steel or aeroplanes or whatever and other governments will respond with legal challenges or countervailing duties. Support can only be very oblique.
    I was once on the receiving end of a visit from a govt civil servant who came to us and said “I am from the Dept of Trade and Industry and have come to offer you every form of assistance, short of actual help”.

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Oct '18 - 6:02pm

    David, I can recomend it. Although its circulation is tiny I agree with some of it ( not all). I have been reading Corbyn’s column for years and respect the man for his consistency and honesty. His politics are flawed because they are essentially the Marxist principle of from each according to their ability to each according to their need. Fine, until those with the ability refuse to play their part then everyone ends up with nothing.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Oct '18 - 6:07pm

    David Raw
    I mention in several threads , we need to kick our top brass up the … re the nout more than Brexit fanaticism! We need to, as your namesake David Becket says, from this and other comments, get more oomph into hq, but we need to really work on presenting policy, it is all good having it, who is telling it.

    Katharine, expats

    The policies of Labour, good bad or indifferent, are not the issue. Corbyn and his immediate circle are. When Emily Thornberry or Sir Keir Starmer are leaders, we can be in partnership,but currently too many of our supporters are against the leadership of the Labour team, and concerned about their judgement.

    Milne, Murrey, and co are not friends.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Oct '18 - 7:24pm

    Fact: the majority of the UK population doesn’t want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. Fact: the majority of the UK population doesn’t want full-blooded Socialism as its Government’s policy. We should be vocal in opposition to both because of what we ourselves believe.

    You are right, Lorenzo, that Corbyn and ‘his immediate circle’ are a problem for the nation, but it is more than the men, it is what they believe in that I have come to think we have to oppose more fiercely. John McDonnell may chat to business people and tell them all will be well, but he doesn’t hesitate to quote Clause 4 which Tony Blair took such pains to be rid of. Jeremy Corbyn may well be damned by many for his past associations, but it is what he and McDonnell and their Momentum backers are proposing as values, attitudes and practical policies that we surely need to demand to know and probably oppose. For example, who can tell what Labour will negotiate with the EU if they get to have the power to do so? We should continue to denounce their unpatriotic shiftiness about Brexit, and ask which of their views of our future with the EU will prevail. We cannot be soft on Labour just because they care more about inequality than do the Tories.

    Innocent, glad to have constructive comments from you this time.

  • Sean Hyland 10th Oct '18 - 8:21pm

    By all means challenge the policies but you have to offer some positive messages and policies in contrast. Push the positive and hope for a response. But it has to be short, memorable and relevant to people’s needs. Internal admin/reorganisation isn’t it. It needs to be about jobs, homes and services.

  • Innocent Bystander 11th Oct '18 - 8:35am

    “Innocent, glad to have constructive comments from you this time.”

    I feel a little hurt, as all my contributions have been constructive. They may have been unwelcome because I try and tell political movements what they don’t like to hear, but should force themselves to listen to.
    I feel the LibDems, more than others, have a tendency to circle the wagons when weaknesses in their arguments are exposed and simply deny, deny, deny. Maybe it’s because of their small size.
    But there is no Macronesque avalanche there and I further opine that the large number of members (and soon supporters) is not the same as numbers of hard working foot soldiers (who seem, for the LibDems to be quite elderly now).
    I am experienced in govt support for industry and have seen it all, TECs Business Links, LEPs etc yet see the same type of initiatives offered again and again, in political manifestos, despite the obvious evidence that the situation relentlessly deteriorates around us.
    There are harder problems and more brutal solutions needed.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '18 - 11:13am

    Innocent, your conclusion here may well be right, but to have written, As I said, “La la la!”
    was definitely not constructive! Sean, thank you for yours, which was.

  • Innocent Bystander 11th Oct '18 - 1:20pm

    Well Katharine I can only but encourage you to listen to views that don’t slavishly agree with your own. That also means not ostentatiously pretending not to have heard the views at all.
    I wish your party well as another force is desperately needed but it needs to broaden it’s appeal, to recognise that economic prosperity is vital for social progress and to seek out reasons why that prosperity is so elusive.
    The reasons are many and uncomfortable and range from funding to how we mission our academic base and our offices of state and how key roles are filled in both those and the quangos.
    Above all we need a party prepared to listen and to learn.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '18 - 11:13pm

    Thanks, David, for that fitting conclusion to the micro debate, and your kind words. Much appreciated. Time to sing quite soon at a splendid event of your creation!

  • Katharine Pindar 12th Oct '18 - 9:58pm

    As Thomas Shakespeare points out in the neighbouring article on Corbyn and inequality, we adopted another hugely significant policy at Brighton with which to challenge the Labour programme. That policy passed from the motion F34, Promoting a Fairer Distribution of Wealth, along with the one I concentrated on above. F28 on Good Jobs, Better Businesses, Stronger Communities, and the significant move towards a Commercial Landowner Levy rather than business rates in F26 Taxing Land, not Investment, together amount to a radical programme we can and should boldly promote.

  • Katherine Pindar – a clear vision with an aim to raise total investment of GDP to 22-25%, I mean, above OECD average via both private investments and public investments will make our plan more credible, since underinvestment has always been a root cause of our economic problems. Corbyn talked big about public investment but neglected private sector. Our manifesto definitely needs more specific numbers. Regarding National Investment Bank, if European countries like German have one, why can’t we? But, instead of trying to create a new bank from thin air, we can use RBS instead of privatizing it, and combine it with British Business Bank, that solution would be much faster and less costly.

    Innocent Bystander – “I am experienced in govt support for industry and have seen it all … in political manifestos, despite the evidence that the situation relentlessly deteriorates around us.
    There are harder problems and more brutal solutions needed” – Fine, if you want our party’s message to be like “we are no different from the Tories/Labour, we will promise but will do nothing”. Clegg and Co have proved how well such thing worked out.

    “I have tried to explain that ‘support’ can not have the meaning you impute, Governments are extremely constrained as to the support they can give before they trigger the anti-competitive subsidy challenge… and other governments will respond with legal challenges or countervailing duties”
    Well, Germany, Japan, South Korea, France… and even the USA disagree. US government support is less direct, but still far more significant than in the UK.

  • Innocent Bystander – “Have you any idea how that works? Do you think the govt can hand taxpayers money to company A ? Won’t companies B, C, D and E all scream blue murder that the playing field has been tilted against them? If we stay in the EU it would be illegal as there is a Europe wide playing field…Govt funds have be used ‘obliquely’ in a way that doesn’t favour one player.” – Germany and France do fine. There are mechanisms, such as German KfW, that allow the government to support strategic sectors as a whole, but do not discriminate between specific players. Next, government direct supports for automation, energy efficiency or computerization should be much bigger, and we don’t have pick-winner problem because regarding automation or energy efficiency practices, we want A, B, C, D all of them to fully embraces these new technology, so no favouritism. Or, the South Korean approach: A receives more support than B, C, D because it has better export performance than B, C and D. Seriously, this is the South Korean approach than turned it into a big exporter with various world-leading industrial giants.

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