Category Archives: News

A Land Value Capture approach to Social Housing Provision

Shelter has published the final report of its cross-party commission on  Social Housing setting out the need for 3.1m new social homes over the next 20 years.

The report makes the case that council houses and social housing should be available to more than just the people in greatest need and those saving to buy. As well as the 1.3 million people it estimates are in greatest need because of hazardous homes, overcrowding, homelessness and disabilities, the new homes should be accessible to a further 1.2 million young people and 700,000 older people trapped in private rent. The commission puts the provision of housing on a par with health and education.

The plans have been costed at up to £225bn. But savings to the £21bn annual housing benefit bill and the economic boost created by the programme means it would pay for itself inside 40 years, according to fiscal modelling for the commission by Capital Economics

The analysis suggests that that two-thirds of the annual investment cost of £10.7bn a year would be clawed back through housing benefit savings and extra tax revenue and the programme would pay for itself in full after 39 years.

Delivering 3m+ social homes by 2040 will require half of the 300,000 annual house building target to come from the public sector.

Key to this objective is the cost of Land. Build costs of new developments have increased by more than 40% since the financial crisis almost entirely due to the cost of land.

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11 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Time to take a deep breath, and work out who the Government is. Is it the centre-right modernists, led by Amber Rudd? Is it the opportunistic wannabes, led by Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt? Or, is Theresa May in office but not in power? Hard to tell from the outside.

But there are still other things ticking over, and there are issues way beyond Brexit, as today’s press releases show…

  • Causes of mental ill-health in schools must be tackled
  • Lib Dems: Penny has dropped with Hunt
  • Lib Dems: UC needs investment, not just reform
  • Lib Dems: Pigs more likely to fly than Brexit legislation to

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Jo Swinson on Question Time: Brexit is a national embarrassment and we can stop it

It’s Jo Swinson’s first week back from parental leave and already she’s done more than most of us letter mortals do in a month.

We’ll have more of that first week over the weekend but for now I want to concentrate on her appearance on Question Time last night.

She was brilliant – clear and passionate, describing Brexit as a national embarrassment and showing how a People’s Vote could get us out of the mess we’re in. The programme came from Islington, her fellow panellist Emily Thornberry’s patch but Jo got way more applause than the Labour shadow foreign secretary did.

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Christine Jardine presents bill to allow asylum seekers to work

Yesterday, Christine Jardine presented a Bill which would allow asylum seekers to work after 3 months.

From The Guardian

Jardine’s asylum seekers (permission to work) bill, if passed into law, would allow asylum seekers to work after three months of lodging their claim.

It has the backing of the Lift the Ban coalition, which has published research showing asylum seekers blocked from working in the UK could make a net contribution of £42m to the economy if restrictive rules were lifted.

Jardine said: “Right now, banning the vast majority of asylum seekers from seeking employment costs the taxpayer millions in housing and support payments. It also forces people who have risked everything to come here to live on the very periphery of society.

“Being denied the right to work, and to put food on the table for you and your family, is cruel and undignified.

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LibLink: Ming Campbell Tribute to Paddy Ashdown

As Paddy’s funeral took place in his home village of Somerset, Politics Home published a fantastic tribute to our former leader by another former leader of the party, Ming Campbell. He described him as “unwaveringly loyal and generous” and said that they never feel out even when they disagreed:

The first serious political test of his leadership was the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in August 1990. Given his military experience, this was the perfect opportunity for him to display his leadership. There were party members in the Commons and Lords and in the country who were nervous about him giving support to the United Nations’ authorised effort to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. But he brought together a small group of senior military figures and diplomats to advise himself and others speaking for the party. At the next Liberal Democrat conference, he got almost total support from his party

Paddy Ashdown’s close relationship with Tony Blair in the run-up to the 1997 General Election has been well documented and had Blair not won that election so comprehensively it might have produced the realignment of the left in British politics longed for by Jo Grimond, David Steel and the Gang of Four. He pursued the possibility of realignment with the same determination as in all things. When it did not come to pass, Paddy, who had by then been leader of the Liberal Democrats for 11 years, began to think of other things to do. When he stepped down he left a Parliamentary party of more than 40 MPs with a well-established and effective third-party role in parliament.

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10 January 2019 – today’s press releases

I’m posting on the fly today, as I’ve allowed myself to become distracted by other things. So, if this posting changes before your very eyes, don’t be surprised… It’s a bit like Brexit in many ways, a kaleidoscope of images, none of which you can ever recreate again…

  • Lib Dems in bid to change asylum seeker employment rules
  • Cable: Moment of reckoning for our economy
  • Cable: No confidence in Govt or Corbyn
  • Lib Dems: We will use “any means possible” to secure proper Brexit debate
  • Lib Dems call for Venezuelan President to step down
  • Blackwood appointment shows Tories ignoring demands for House of Lords reform

Lib Dems

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Can’t afford to go to Conference?

Embed from Getty Images

Did you know about the Access Fund which supports members who want to go to Conference? I expect you think that it provides resources for people with disabilities – and that is indeed true, because, amongst other things, it funds the BSL signers.

But it also offers grants to individual members who can’t afford the full cost of Conference. It can cover childcare costs and also accommodation and travel.

The deadline for applications to the Access Fund for Spring Conference was a couple of days ago, but not many applications had been received by that date so they are happy to receive late submissions this year. Full details are to be found on the Conference Access Fund page.

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Jo Swinson on QT today

This evening’s Question Time is the first in 2019 and the first chaired by Fiona Bruce. And Jo Swinson is one of the panellists. She shares the podium with James Cleverly MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Melanie Phillips and Nish Kumar, which should make for a lively debate.

You will have spotted that the majority of people on the panel are women, as indeed was the case for David Dimbleby’s final programme in December. QT has been addressing the diversity of its panels over the last year – at least in terms of gender and ethnicity – so let’s hope that continues.

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A Residential Land Value Tax approach to Funding Adult Social Care

Sir Andrew Dilnot in his evidence to the HCLG select committee on funding of adult social care said:
“there is no consensus on where the money should come from. That is what is always politically most toxic for Governments. The debate is much more now about where the money should come from than about what the money should be spent on. My advice for any institution trying to build consensus would be try to focus on that.”
Council tax in its present form and the supplementary social precept creates an inequitable distribution of the tax burden. A Land Value Tax is not …

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9 January 2019 – (the rest of) today’s press releases

You can hardly blame my editorial colleague for publishing one of today’s releases a bit earlier in the day than usual. After all, our unwritten constitution isn’t often redrafted on the hoof, as it were, as Parliament hurtles towards a possible unintended ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Is there anyone out there who can rally enough MPs behind them to at least apply the brakes?…

  • PM shamefully sides with Putin, not people (see here)
  • Lib Dems: People do not trust politicians to take the final decision on Brexit
  • Parliament ‘takes back control’ from a failing Govt (see here)
  • Corbyn letting down his party and country

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Layla: Who’s side is the PM on, Putin or the People’s

Layla Moran had a PMQ today and she rocked it.

She paid a generous tribute to Paddy Ashdown. When I watched it live, it seemed like people were saying “shame” to her. But there’s another story to that.

The main thrust of her question to Theresa May was about it becoming clearer that people wanted a People’s Vote on Brexit while Putin wanted her to get on with Brexit and who’s side was she on.

Watch:

Now, back to the heckling. 

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9th January – today’s press releases

Parliament ‘takes back control’ from a failing Govt

Responding to the Conservative Government defeat on the business motion in the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Parliament has rejected the Prime Minister’s vain attempt to once again kick the Brexit can down the road and run down the clock.

It is right Parliament has ‘taken back control’ from a wayward Prime Minister and this failing Conservative Government.

Liberal Democrats want to go much further and give the power back to the public with a people’s vote and the option to remain in the EU.

PM shamefully sides with Putin, not people

Today, during PMQs, …

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Intolerant democracy

We seem to be living in an age of ever-increasing fanatics, people who believe that they are always right and are intolerant of other views. I am talking about the abusive treatment of Anna Soubry. This government is ridiculously split over Brexit, and the referendum which many thought (wrongly, in my opinion) would put an end to the debate over Europe has actually fanned the flames of a possible bitter split. Views have been further polarised by this incompetent government and their mismanagement of Brexit. In general, the printed press has supported the case to leave Europe and they continue to make their crude case to leave. The printed press has been reluctant to objectively understand or discuss any opposing view, resulting in opinions being sharply divided. We are right; You are wrong – fanatics.

But why the abuse or violence from people who otherwise are educated and usually quite rational. This trait isn’t only being displayed against politicians but is also manifest in sports and social media. We seem to have acquired common values to a cause, opinion or a team and shut the world out to the rest. The real danger is the reluctance to consider other views, to ponder opportunities and respectfully acknowledge differing opinions.

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8 January 2019 – today’s press releases

It seems that, no matter how late I publish this feature, the Press Team are still up and working. Last night, the final press release came out at 11.58 p.m., so is included in today’s batch…

  • Drone reforms are vague and lack resources
  • Social housing neglect due to lack of political will
  • Dover delay is a national embarrassment
  • Cable: Bumbling Govt taking ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Govt defeat shows no deal not an option
  • Lib Dems: Drone sighting shows urgent need for regulation
  • Lib Dems defeat Govt on loan charges

Drone reforms are vague and lack resources

Responding to the Government annoucement that the police will …

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Government defeat! Cross Party amendment requiring MPs to consent to no deal preparations passes

Yvette Cooper’s cross-party amendment which ensures that the Government would have to get the explicit consent of Parliament for no deal expenditure passed in Parliament tonight. This amendment was signed by Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs.

I always like that moment in the Commons when the tellers line up in front of the Speaker. Those on the right are on the winning side. And if it’s the opposition MPs, you know that the Government has been defeated.

The margin was just 7 votes. 303-296.

There’s a bit of a  health warning with this, though. This doesn’t indicate how the vote on the draft withdrawal deal will go. The Tory Brexiteers would have voted with the Government and they oppose the deal. People like Nicky Morgan voted with the opposition and she will be supporting the deal. And, of course, you’ll have Labour Brexiteers voting with the Government.

If it has use, it’s about building relationships and trust across parties, amongst individual MPs which may help later.

Tom Brake said the Government must now rule out no deal:

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Christopher Beazley, former Conservative MEP for two decades, defects to Liberal Democrats and calls for a People’s Vote on Brexit

Christopher Beazley is welcomed into the party by Jonathan Brown

Christopher Beazley, Chichester/West Sussex resident and former Member of the European Parliament for the East of England 1999-2009 and for Cornwall and Plymouth 1984-1994, is resigning from the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Democrats.

Christopher says:

As a lifelong, traditional, one-nation, pro-European Conservative I can no longer sit idly by while my former party plunges the country into disaster.

Successive Tory Party leaders have failed to confront the nationalist, lunatic right-wing fringe. As my daughter put it: “David Cameron gambled with our future and lost!”

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Hospital where May launched NHS plan built with EU funding

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No Deal Brexit

It is now just over 11 weeks left before we leave the EU. We should have been a lot further with the negotiations that we are at the moment i.e. a deal agreed with the UK now in the process of negotiating a trade deal, this is what the Tories called a  ‘good deal’. But the bickering among the Tories that led us to a referendum almost sealed their fate in that they were never going to agree on what they considered was a good deal. Their bluster about how the EU would bend to their needs because BMW and …

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7 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Back to our normal scheduling, I’m pleased to say, so we’ll be publishing on weekdays and Sundays from here until the next Parliamentary recess. That said, the Lords hasn’t indicating that it’s taking one yet, so it could be a long session…

  • Fall in car sales shows extent of Brexit damage
  • Lamb: NHS plan fatally undermined by insufficient resources
  • Manufacturing companies let down by blundering Conservative Government
  • Govt failing their duty over vital Brexit legislation

Fall in car sales shows extent of Brexit damage

Responding to the news that UK car sales have fallen by the biggest amount since the days of the financial crisis, Liberal …

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31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to …

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Biggest poll since EU Referendum says Labour will be punished if it enables Brexit

Labour would crash to a worse defeat than it suffered under Michael Foot if the party enables Brexit, according to a huge new poll. YouGov surveyed a huge sample of 25000 people and the results show that the party risks losing millions of supporters in two scenarios under which it either votes through some form of compromise deal or fails to order MPs to oppose Brexit.

These findings are consistent with the Channel 4 poll in November which showed that a majority of its 20,000 sample backed Remain.

The fieldwork was done over the Christmas holidays and was completed on Friday, so this is about as fresh as you can get.

It is amazing that current voting intention shows only 34% support for Labour, the main opposition party, at a time when the government is driving us over a no deal cliff that could see shortages of food and medicine.

The poll suggests that Labour’s vote would crash to 26 per cent – and 16 points behind the Conservatives if its MPs vote with the Tories to bring about Brexit. That would bring about Labour’s worst result since the 1930s. Maybe that’s the real reason that Corbyn has gone cool on a motion of no confidence.

The YouGov poll shows a majority for Remain under any scenario in a new referendum on the deal vs remain and no deal. 

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“A more inclusive party which empowers the voice of people who are both BAME and LGBT”

Today’s video from the Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality shows secretary Nadiya Phoenix talk about the need for the party to look at the needs of people who are both LGBT and BAME.

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WATCH: How Lib Dems are fighting airport injustice

Did you know that a disproportionate number of those stopped and checked at airports were BAME people?

Did you know that if, as a result of those checks, they and their families missed their flight, there was no compensation?

Thanks to the Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality, this issue is now being given the attention it deserves.

Watch Dr Mohsin Khan outline the problem and explain what LDCRE has done to try and sort things out.

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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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Obituary: Peter Boizot MBE (1929-2018)

Peter Boizot had four great passions: pizza, jazz, Peterborough and Liberalism! With all four he was liberal in his support, both with finance and in enthusiasm. He had great entrepreneurial acumen so that his delightfully naive belief that what he was enthusiastic about would also create paying customers often proved to be the case, making him a very rich man. He was not at all embarrassed by being rich as he simply regarded wealth as a means of supporting his passions and financing new ideas.
 
His innate liberalism also showed in ways that others would regard as eccentric. When businesses started up in other parts of the country or abroad copying the Pizza Express style and menu, rather than suing them he regarded it as a tribute to his success and as an encouragement for their customers also to patronise his restaurants. Having introduced a string quartet in Pizza Express on one evening a week, his accountant produced figures to show that the extra cost meant they were losing money, Peter ignored the evidence on the grounds that music and food went well together and that it would encourage repeat visits. Also, rather than give cash to beggars encountered on his way through Soho to his restaurant, he would offer them employment.
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Liz Jarvis explains why she joined Lib Dems from Labour

I’ve been talking to Liz Jarvis, who joined the Lib Dems from Labour in the Summer a bit on Twitter. Remarkably, out of 700,000 people, we found each other to have a brief conversation at the People’s Vote march in October. She’s written for the Independent Voices website about why she joined us.

She was pretty involved in the Labour Party as a student and voted Labour throughout her adult life. When the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories, any positive feelings she had towards our party evaporated and she continued to vote Labour. But along came Jeremy Corbyn:

I might have remained “soft” Labour but for the perfect storm of Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit. The latter is quite simply anathema to me, not just because I’m the granddaughter of immigrants, but because I believe so strongly in freedom of movement, and that the evidence backs up the overwhelming truth that we are better off in the EU than we can possibly be out of it.

The Momentum-propelled adulation of Jeremy Corbyn left me cold. I was also increasingly uneasy about the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and for the first time in my voting life I started to feel politically homeless.

Last summer I explained how I was feeling to a friend who had joined the Lib Dems, and he asked me why I was still supporting Labour. After a heated debate, the conclusion was tribalism. I had been clinging on to my political heritage and the promise of what might have been, had Blair not led Britain to war in Iraq, had Corbyn not become leader, had David Miliband stuck around or Ed not eaten that bacon sandwich.

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We Demand Better for Race Equality

Last week, the Resolution Foundation found that UK black and ethnic minorities (BAME) lost an estimated £3.2bn a year in pay gap and called for equivalent gender pay gap reporting for BAME workers. There was another report from the Centre for Justice Innovation on how community sentencing has decreased due to the loss of trust between the judges and magistrates and the probation service since the latter was privatised.

It seems like there is report each week of evidence of race discrimination or breakdown of trust between the UK establishment and the ethnic minority communities. …

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Coalition blues

Back in 2010 after a General Election that left our party with the balance of power in a hung parliament the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Conservatives.

Every section of the party overwhelmingly supported this move and after decades out in the cold Liberals were finally back in government.

The circumstances weren’t ideal given the dire economic situation, and for a party that faced the Tories as the main opposition in many areas, it was sure to be difficult electorally over the coming five years.

That said options were limited, Labour were the clear losers, and the parliamentary arithmetic made a deal with them impossible.

A coalition or confidence and supply arrangement with David Cameron’s Conservatives were the only realistic choices.

Liberal Democrats joined the cabinet, became ministers, and an agreement was concluded on legislative priorities.

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CCTV – What of Liberty

The UK has approximately 1 per cent of the world population and well over 10 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras. London alone has around 422,000 CCTV cameras, and it is estimated that on an average day an individual, in London, will be captured on a camera at least 30 times. Third in line with the most CCTV cameras is Chicago, with at least 17,000. However, according to a recent report in the Chinese state media, People’s Daily, the city of Beijing now has a CCTV network that covers ‘every corner’ of the city. The total number of cameras is around 470,000. Without any obvious trace of irony, the system’s official name is ‘Sky Net’.

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984 one of the things that the protagonist Winston Smith hated was the surveillance by cameras and how the Thought Police could remotely talk to you. Someone mentioned to me that as he was coming out of Reading Station, about a year ago, someone dropped an empty packet of crisp on the floor, only to be told via a speaker to pick up the litter he discarded that had been spotted by CCTV.

We now learn that Christmas shoppers have had their faces scanned in central London as part of a police trial. The Metropolitan Police says it invited people to take part in testing the technology rather than scanning people covertly. Privacy campaigner Big Brother Watch has described the use of such technology as “authoritarian, dangerous and lawless”.  In a statement, the group said that “monitoring innocent people in public is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and assembly”. Investigations by them also revealed that the system at the moment is not fully functioning as it identified a large number of innocent people as potential suspects.

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Happy New Year, everybody!

Happy New Year, everyone! Enjoy the Sydney fireworks which I’m posting because my friend Tom is out there at the moment and he sent me a photo of himself a while ago with the bridge in the background.

Eat, drink and have general fun in whichever way you like today because tomorrow (or Wednesday in Scotland since we have a much-needed extra bank holiday) we get on with stopping this Brexit nonsense.

Let’s hope that we can still say that we are citizens of the European Union at the end of this year.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Chandler 17th Jan - 1:49pm
    There's also the, not-insignificant, matter of the 12 million registered voters who did not vote in the referendum. Now, I believe there is some indication...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Jan - 1:47pm
    @ Chris Moore, Yes this is possible. It's been a similar story in Ireland. Countries can do quite well in the eurozone if they can...
  • User AvatarChris Bertram 17th Jan - 1:36pm
    "... half-truths of the Leave campaign ..." That's a bit generous, isn't it?
  • User AvatarMichael 1 17th Jan - 1:23pm
    People may be interested in an academic paper by Warwick University academics at https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/394-2018_fetzer.pdf based on the big Survation poll in November This has two...
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 17th Jan - 12:59pm
    Perhaps we need to develop, and make quickly understood, an economic policy/set of of policies which stop the transfer of money from the "real world...
  • User Avatarchris moore 17th Jan - 12:55pm
    Hello Peter, interestingly, around three years ago, Spain passed from a persistent current account déficit to a modest current account surplus. (In the midst of...