Jeremy Browne and his plan for the privileged

Eton college sign. Photo by Paul WalterOver the last couple of days, discussion of Jeremy Browne’s new book has caused, it’s fair to say, a bit of controversy on this site. Race Plan, contains ideas which make some liberals dance with joy and others wince. We previewed it yesterday and Nick Thornsby has produced an extremely well written review. You might well disagree with it, but he presents his arguments knowledgeably and respectfully.

I have not read this book. I probably will, but it’ll take a wee while before it gets anywhere near the top of my “must read” list. I do, however, feel that I know enough of its contents from Jeremy’s Daily Politics video, various press articles and, of course,  Nick’s review. Here are some observations based on those things:

“Authentic” liberalism? How very dare you!

Liberalism by its very nature is an extremely wide ranging philosophy. It’s also a bit of a strange one, because it’s possible to come to entirely different, contradictory conclusions about an issue from a liberal point of view. The issue of banning smoking in cars with children present is one, fox hunting is another. So is expressing a 19th century economic liberal point of view. So is supporting a strong state which gives people the freedom to contribute fully to society, which enables them to do all that they are capable of. What we don’t have the right to do is to say that our kind of liberalism is better than anybody else’s. We’re individuals. We have different ideas. We need to debate them as a party, put forward our evidence and discuss them rationally.

When someone gets above themselves and suggests that their ideas are the only liberal ones, the proper liberal ones, it annoys me. Maybe I’m a slightly sensitised at the moment due to the independence referendum up here. One of the things that really sours the debate is the insinuation, or often explicit expression, that if you don’t support independence, you are somehow not a proper Scot. Alistair Carmichael had an SNP Councillor call him a “supposed Scot” a few months ago.

Like everyone involved in the independence debate loves Scotland, everyone who signs up to the Preamble to our Constitution has the right to call themselves a liberal and to contribute to our shared understanding. One of the great things about our party is that it’s difficult to split us into factions. Charlotte Henry and I might be at loggerheads one day over the economy, but the next we’ll be working together, speaking with one voice against secret courts.

Browne’s claim to the “authentic liberalism” mantle is a bit like sticking two fingers up to all the lefties and telling them to all bog off and join Labour if they don’t like it. So he can hardly complain when people do the reverse and suggest he might be more comfortable in the Tories. But that’s not the ground we should be fighting over. It’s the substance of the ideas.

Fine if you’re privileged

I think the biggest problem I have with Jeremy Browne’s plan to make the British state leaner and fitter so it can compete in the global race is simply that it’s written by someone who comes from an exceptionally privileged background for those who come from an exceptionally privileged background.

Let’s take the schools plan, for example. So we abolish LEAs and every school is a free school. How wonderful for parental choice. Until real life gets in the way. For a start, you’ll have chains of schools. The ATOS schools, the Capita schools, set up to maximise economies of scale. Of course, in the leafy, affluent suburbs, you might get little boutique schools for the select few. But just say you are a four year old from a tough part of town, what real choice are your parents going to have? You might be really bright, but even if you could get in to Eton-lite in the leafy suburb with your extra funds for your postcode, how are your parents going to afford to send you six miles away every day? It’s a total non-starter. You’d be stuck with the ATOS school at the end of your street. Privilege would be even more entrenched than it is at the moment.

And who benefits from the slimmed down state? Those who don’t need to use it, of course. Browne wants to slash welfare. Sorry, but our vulnerable people are at breaking point. They cannot lose any more. The 6% of welfare spend that goes on working age sickness benefits is simply insufficient. For me, a civilised society is one with a compassionate, realistic approach to those who are too sick to work. If you seriously want to get people who have been on welfare for decades into work, the humane way to do it is to offer specialised, high quality support and training. That costs money.

My husband doesn’t quite remember the days before the Welfare State and the NHS, but his father, who was a family doctor before and after the NHS lived and worked through them. The stories he had about preventable hardship, deprivation and premature death were heartbreaking. These are not times we want to return to.

You shape your state to the needs of your society, not to some arbitrary figure of 35% of GDP.

It’s all a matter of timing

Now, of course Jeremy Browne has the perfect right to say what he likes and publish his books when he likes. I just wish he’d had a bit more consideration, though. His views are no surprise to me or anyone else in the party. But the casual observer may not know that. They may get the impression that his views are shared by the majority of the party. When we have spent most of the past two years showing how different we are from the Tories, it hardly helps to have wall to wall coverage for something that has all the resonance of a Thatcherite agenda six weeks before a major election when we don’t really want to be distracted into explaining the differences. If nothing else, they’ll read that some Lib Dem wants to cut taxes for the richest. Thanks for that, Jeremy.

I am not one of these people that thinks private sector always evil, public sector always good. I am committed, though, to high quality public services that deliver effective, individualised  help and support to everyone who needs them. I’m not sure Jeremy Browne has shown us much of a way forward on that.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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106 Comments

  • Caron for MP!

    Can we get caron elected pls, k, thx.

  • “Browne’s claim to the “authentic liberalism” mantle is a bit like sticking two fingers up to all the lefties and telling them to all bog off and join Labour if they don’t like it. So he can hardly complain when people do the reverse and suggest he might be more comfortable in the Tories.”

    I really am going to have to read this book.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Apr '14 - 9:20pm

    I’ve taken a break from the football to reply to Nick Perry’s comment. If you are glad Jeremy Browne got sacked then you must want much of the Lib Dem party sacked too. Tell me how economic liberalism is more right wing than centrism?

    Regarding the article: I agree economic liberals should not try to claim liberalism as their own – just use the term economic liberalism. There are many authentic liberals who want property rights watered down.

    Overall I find the article respectful and have no big problems with it.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 9:33pm

    “But just say you are a four year old from a tough part of town, what real choice are your parents going to have”
    Why would you not have a choice ? Particularly if the schools are incentivised to focus on getting results for children from poor families ?

  • Joshua Dixon 9th Apr '14 - 9:38pm

    Simon, I think the problem is that schools should not have to be incentivised in the first place.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Apr '14 - 9:39pm

    But how does the kid get to the school? If their parents are poor, they won’t be able to afford the transport costs.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Apr '14 - 9:39pm

    Simon McGrath – ‘Why would you not have a choice ?’

    Probably due to a lack of surplus capacity. In a balance-sheet recession such a lack seems to me to be very likely. If there is no surplus capacity then the choice is exercised by the provider.

  • “If you are glad Jeremy Browne got sacked then you must want much of the Lib Dem party sacked too.”
    Hm. Interesting idea!

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 9:40pm

    @caron – why wouldnt the good school open in the poor area?

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Apr '14 - 9:48pm

    But isn’t there a much wider issue here? We can throw the word, ‘liberal,’ around all day. We can talk the talk about choice, individualised services, investment and so on. What is needed is solid, secure incomes. To my mind it really is that simple. Education is great, if there are no jobs for those that have qualified so what? Take a look at the unemployment stats for engineering graduates. We can have fine infrastructure, if the buildings are empty then so what? There has been a severe devaluation of labour and until returns in the economy move towards labour rather than capital then it really is not clear to me how things will get better for the large part of society.

    To be clear, I make no partisan political point here. These bad trends in the economy – a generationally loaded housing market, junk jobs, debt funded education, wage arbitrage, lack of meaningful banking regulation were under successive governments.

    The solutions are not always easy either. The stark truth is that localism may need to take it on the chin in order to build more houses for example. We might also need to have a more sceptical discussion on immigration too.

    And all of the above is before we start on pensions.

    But for the moment, this is not about liberalism, Thatcherism or even Browneism. It’s about an economy that doesn’t have a big black hole where the security should be for the PAYE classes.

  • @Simon: do you think the middle classes would want their kids going into deprived areas? Even deprived people aren’t happy about being in deprived areas; I don’t think anyone who would willingly go to Harehills in Leeds…

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 9:54pm

    Simon McGrath

    Why would you not have a choice ? Particularly if the schools are incentivised to focus on getting results for children from poor families ?

    Well, lets consider how this choice thing works with universities. Everyone knows there are only two REALLY good universities in this country (in respect to Caron, I mean my country and not hers, and as an Imperial graduate I might have wanted to say “three”, but let’s stick to the two). So, by your argument, since every student would want to go to one of those two really good universities and not to a lower quality one, why do we have any others? Shouldn’t we just let Oxford and Cambridge Universities expand, and all the others close down due to students preferring to go to the best, so that eventually every higher education institution is either a college of Oxford University or a college of Cambridge university? This would ensure every student in this country gets an Oxford or Cambridge quality education, yes?

    I think there are flaws in this argument. Perhaps if you can think them through it might illustrate why there are flaws in the similar argument being put about school level education.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Apr '14 - 9:58pm

    Matthew Huntbach – Well….Let’s at least run with the G5.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 10:02pm

    @Sarah – we are talking at cross purposes I think . why would good schools, possibly incentivised to focus on improving the position of poor children not open in poor areas

    @matthew – I have no idea what point you are trying to make.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Apr '14 - 12:20am

    I also kind of agree with Caron’s statement of “You shape your state to the needs of your society, not to some arbitrary figure of 35% of GDP.”. The problem is the left loses credibility when it thinks the needs of society is to force equality in all areas of life, rather than simply focus on those suffering. The right loses credibility when it isn’t concerned about meeting people’s basic needs. Politics is not just about left and right either, I’m just pointing out how differences could be reconciled.

  • A Social Liberal 10th Apr '14 - 3:14am

    I know this is pursuing a topic which is going horribly off thread, but Simon McGrath – do you really doubt that children from deprived backgrounds are statistically less likely to do well in school? So that any school which concentrates its efforts only in and for deprived areas is – unless it is financed much higher and therefor to the detriment of other schools (academies, free schools are examples of this) – much less likely to get those children to fly.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 10th Apr '14 - 8:44am

    Gareth, you are not alone. I didn’t get one either:-).

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Apr '14 - 8:45am

    This debate seems to be focussing on education and parental choice but….. what if the parents have no serious interest (or even understanding) of the importance of a good education to their childrens’ chances in the modern world? Should a child be deprived of a good education because its parents didn’t care?

    Democracy doesn’t always get this right either – if it did we wouldn’t have had issues of failing schools in times before governments started taking schools out of LA control.

    Governments need at least to be involved in setting minimum standards and ensuring they are delivered. They shouldn’t necessarily need to micro-manage the curriculum but they need to set basic objectives, applicable to all children, not just the brightest:-

    1. Proper standards of literacy and numeracy so that teenagers can manage their personal finances without taking on debts they can’t possibly repay, can work out a simple household budget etc. i.e. this is not just about being employable, it is about being able to manage the basics of adult life for oneself

    2. Ability to socialise properly with others of differing backgrounds and age groups

    3. Understanding of other communities’ cultural differences – comparative religion should be a required component of the curriculum but the state should not fund any form of indoctrination

    4. Understanding of the basic needs of the world of work – being neat and tidy, able to communicate clearly, being on time (if you have to work early the next morning you do NOT go out partying the night before and risk oversleeping and being late for work the following morning) because other people in that workplace are depending on you turning up on time, understanding that a degree doesn’t automatically qualify you for the workplace, willingness to continue learning after leaving school etc.

  • Meral Hussein-Ece 10th Apr '14 - 8:59am

    @caron Lindsay-
    “I think the biggest problem I have with Jeremy Browne’s plan ……………… is simply that it’s written by someone who comes from an exceptionally privileged background for those who come from an exceptionally privileged background”
    Spot on. This is an example of the privileged minority telling the rest how it should be governed. Politicians who look like & represent the rest, the majority, are sadly in a minority.

  • When I wrote this there were 24 comments. Not a single comment contained a quote from Browne’s book. Many commentators said they had not read it. I am intrigued by the idea we can have a passionate debate about something we have not read.

  • Robert Wootton 10th Apr '14 - 10:00am

    “You shape your state to the needs of your society, not to some arbitrary figure of 35% of GDP.”

    No. You shape your Economy to the needs of society. Then you can slim down the state and the benefits bill and cut taxes! And improve the lives of every citizen.

    A Fair Economy; A Strong Society. By design.

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th Apr '14 - 10:10am

    @Meral. I have not read the book, and I suspect that neither have you. The Liberal D
    emocrats are a broad church, but liberals certainly should not judge comments based on the social class of those making them. Are you really suggesting that we should only listen to politicians who ‘look like & represent the rest, the majority’. I really hope you are a member of some other party.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Apr '14 - 10:25am

    @Stephen Donnelly. I have the book and am reading it. It’s clear there is little reference of the vast majority of less well privileged people in society.

  • Nick Collins 10th Apr '14 - 10:30am

    @ Stephen Donnelly: “The Liberal Democrats are a broad church, but … I really hope you are a member of some other party.”

    Hmmm!

  • Sheesh, now you want free books when us plebs had to buy it 🙂

    Caractacus, you could have a read of Spencer’s “Man v State”, particularly “The New Toryism” to see how he charted the path of liberal and Tory policy over the century. Also “The Sins of the Legislators” to see how he thinks it was state interference (specifically in the Building Act of 1844(ish?) for making it virtually impossible to build decent housing at costs the poor could afford, thanks to cronies of the state lobbying for their type of building material or standard.

    Eddie, presumably the “neither left nor right” can be praised for wanting to assist the poor by eradicating this sort of privilege rather than letting it happen and then arbitrarily confiscating some to help the poor afford the state inflated costs of living. 🙂

  • Apologies – link to Man Versus State

  • @Caron – If JB feels that his views are grounded in the “broad church” of liberal thinking and clearly some on here would agree,surely he’s entitled to use the word “authentic”? What would be unreasonable/inflammatory would be to claim that his views alone had authenticity.
    In terms of his timing I guess it rather depends on whether you think this sort of material attracts “casual readers”or indeed is aimed at them.I rather suspect it wont and it wasn’t!
    I’ve not been put out by JB’s views but have been very disappointed by a vociferous minority who clearly would rather purge the Party of those who’s views don’t conform to their own perceived wisdom.I’m also rather fed up of constant ,disparaging,references to individuals background and education. Imagine that had one of our left of centre members, from a working class background, produced a book of this nature. Would you accompany an article with a picture of a run down comprehensive,would those posting be tolerant of views disparaging the author on the basis of his /her background? I’d always understood that we LD’s stood for fairness and tolerance and that we didn’t tie our flag to any particular class.I hope i haven’t been kidding myself this past 35 years!

  • @A Social Liberal isn’t @Simon McGrath supporting plans that would ‘finance higher’ schools in deprived areas by giving more funding to those pupils. Browne wants vouchers but the basic concept of attaching more funding to pupils who need extra help is one that all of us in the party what ever our strip could unite around given the benefits of having introduced the pupil premium?

    I certainly wouldn’t say that personally I’m from Jeremy Browne’s ‘wing of the party’ but it is surely a sad state of affairs if we have to resort to the Labour level of attack of he’s posh ergo we shouldn’t listen to him. Surely we should on this forum be ‘playing the ball not the man’. After all Jeremy is an elected politician who has persuaded voters in Taunton that he is the best choice to represent them in Parliament.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 11:08am

    Dean.W.

    @Caron – If JB feels that his views are grounded in the “broad church” of liberal thinking and clearly some on here would agree,surely he’s entitled to use the word “authentic”? What would be unreasonable/inflammatory would be to claim that his views alone had authenticity

    Yes, and what you write in your last sentence here IS what he is doing. This book is very clearly being pushed (see, for example here in a way that is suggesting that the policies being advanced are not just compatible with the broad church of liberalism, but are “liberal” in a way more so than anyone else’s policies. Browne is definitely saying that policies which go well further to the right in economic terms than those of Margaret Thatcher are “liberal” in a way that suggests policies which aren’t as extreme economic right as this are not “liberal” are a sort of fake liberal. That is, he most definitely IS accusing those of us who do not support those policies of not being “liberal” and putting himself and his policies up as the epitome of liberalism.

    He’s entitled to his views, yes, and entitled to try and push them, but he needs to be honest about what he is doing and not do it by stealth, just using the word “liberal” without any admittance that it’s very far from what those of us who have hitherto used that word of ourselves have stood for politically.

    What also saddens me is the way he’s been praised by supporters (many of whom seem reluctant to reveal their real names) as someone who is thinking great new things, proposing something which is intellectually challenging, demonstrating great political intelligence when it is painfully obvious he is NOT. He is just rehearsing tired old economically right-wing lines which have been common currency for decades now, put forward constantly by commentators in the right-wing press, pumped incessantly by right-wing think tanks paid by big business to promote this stuff.

    Sure, I’m only going on what’s been described as in this book, and what his own supporters say about it. But so far none of them has been able to demonstrate to me anything from it that shows any sort of originality, anything from it which is not standard trite right-wing stuff. I’m using “right-wing” here to mean “defence of existing wealth and privilege, belief that the people who have wealth and power are the right people to have it and their having it should be defended”. That is why I don’t think the absence of old-style small-c conservative stuff means it is not right-wing, as some have argued.

    My own politics is to the left, yes. But the thing that made me join the Liberal Party and call myself a “liberal” was the arrogance of the socialist left back when theirs was the dominant ideology, the one that people adopted if they wanted to seem clever, the one whose tomes filled the politics shelves of bookshops. I just couldn’t stand the way they would consider themselves so much better than anyone else, the contempt they would express for anyone who was critical of their ideas, the way their heads seemed to be full of this ideological answer to everything, and most of all the way they totally ignored how their ideas never seemed to work out when put into practice, how their answer to this point was always that they just needed to be tried in a more extreme form, how they seemed to lack any sort of human insight into why their fine theories actually did not work so well in practice.

    I see just the same attitude in Jeremy Browne and his supporters.

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th Apr ’14 – 10:10am
    Stephen you are the latest in what seems to be a coordinated group of people who in each of the three threads defend Browne by accusing anyone critical of his book of not having read it.
    None of you make the same accusation to people supporting Browne. Are we to assume that it is OK to,support the contents of a book you have yet to read?
    It was pointed out the day before yesterday that the Browne book has been available for download since at least the beginning of this week. Today is Thursday so your line of defense for Browne might seem to be wearing a little thin. So maybe you could drop the false accusations and stick to,the matter in hand?
    I am delighted that Meral has already responded to you to say that she does indeed have a copy of the book and has read sufficient to be able to form an opinion.
    It is interesting that Liberator has not received a review copy. Those that defend Browne by saying that the intention of the book is to promote debate within the party must be surprised by this. A host of Conservative pundits and scribblers would appear to have had plenty of time to read and comment. Not a single accusation that the supporters of Browne have not read the book. How strange.

    I am with Caron when she points out why it is not necessary to have studied the book in detail before forming a view of the contents which have been so widely trailed by Mr Browne’s well resourced friends

    BTW —– I have noticed people in LDV offer views on Christianity and Islam. Nobody has questioned if they hve read the Bible or the Koran from cover to cover before venturing their opinion. Maybe the supporters of Browne regard his writings as more important than either of those books and therefore above such criticism ?

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 11:33am

    Simon

    I certainly wouldn’t say that personally I’m from Jeremy Browne’s ‘wing of the party’ but it is surely a sad state of affairs if we have to resort to the Labour level of attack of he’s posh ergo we shouldn’t listen to him

    I have been careful to say why I think his policies won’t work as he supposes, I have given quite a few examples of why the mantra “competition drives up quality” does not always work. Just in discussion with someone this morning I’ve heard yet another tale of what was once a place that gave good service and had happy workers and customers being taken over by new management who had this “competition is good – you must fight each other for your jobs” attitude, and how that led to a collapse in morale, feelings of depression, a deterioration of quality of service, and a feeling of oppression and lack of freedom and unhappiness in both staff and customers. Browne and his supporters just have NO human feeling for all of this, or at least they have not demonstrated any, since I have seen no reply to the points I have been making in these lines here.

    I made the clear practical point that the “free schools” idea is a remedy to a problem that does not exist, since it seems to be based on the notion that Local Education Authorities “run” schools in the sense of dictating what they teach and how. This is simply NOT TRUE. What those who advocate “free schools” say they provide is ALREADY THERE. LEA schools are already free to teach Latin, or have fancy uniforms or whatever, the Local Authority does NOT have the power to intervene and tell them to do it or not to do it. These things are ALREADY decided just by the school’s head teacher and governing body. So, one might say (and picking up from today’s news), “Free Schools”, the centre point of Browne’s ideas, are a sort of Tamiflu. I made this point on the basis of direct experience, mine as a councillor on a LEA, my wife’s as a Chair of governors of a LEA school. Not one of Browne’s supporters has come back to me on this, not one of them has demonstrated any sort of real knowledge or experience of the situation and so been able to contradict me on this point.

    I put this because when I became a councillor, I had actually hoped I would be able to have an impact and do something to push schools in the way I felt they ought to go towards better teaching and more appropriate subjects based on my direct experience of their products as a university lecturer in a practical skills subject where there is great industrial need. I may be to the left politically, but in terms of how I think education should be run I’m actually quite right-wing and traditionalist, so I would like to have been abel to push some of what the “Free Schools” say they are about. I found I couldn’t do it, the council just DOESN’T have the power to control schools like that. So the “Free School” line is nonsense since it is based on the supposition that schools are like they are because the council makes it that way.

    During the time my wife was Chair of Governors, the school she was responsible for went from low down in the borough league table to the top. I never heard my wife complaining about the LEA getting in her way and stopping the head and her from doing what they wanted to make the school better, because contrary to the “Free School” line which Browne is pushing in this book, the LEA doesn’t have the power to do that. She found the LEA an occasional source of useful advice and support in a few tricky situations, but its role apart form that is just to provide a budget and let the school get on with it.

    None of Browne’s supporters have shown any sort of real knowledge or ability to talk about these things in practical terms. They are just too much wrapped up in their fancy fashionable theories to bother with reality.

  • A Social Liberal 10th Apr '14 - 11:36am

    @Simon

    What is a few hundred thousand when extra millions are needed? To set up a school in a deprived area, have it dedicated to children from the poorest families and have it do well would take the finances of a free school. How do you run a school trip abroad, for instance, when the majority of your childrens families could not put anything towards it? How do you get the value added that a good PTA brings to a school through the fundraising they do when the school is set wthin an area of deprivation?

    The pupils premium is good, but it isn’t fantastic.

  • @Simon
    Simon you say —
    “… After all Jeremy is an elected politician who has persuaded voters in Taunton that he is the best choice to represent them in Parliament. ”
    Would you agree that your argument would hold more water if Jeremy Browne MP had been elected on the policies contained in his book?
    As far as I am aware Jeremy Browne did not put out a single leaflet in Taunton or address a single meeting, or write to a single voter to express the views that are in this book.
    Perhaps you, or Jeremy himself, could prove me wrong and give chapter and verse of his public statements before the 2010 election that for example call for an end to all state schooling and a slashing of social security benefits?

  • Paul Reynolds 10th Apr '14 - 12:03pm

    Thank you Caron for one of the most thought-provoking LDV articles of late…. as the number and quality of comments shows, I believe.

    Jeremy’s book argues his classical liberal case (re-applied to the modern world in the UK) reasonably well. It’s quite a good read. I am not entirely sure what his ‘of the moment’ political agenda is, but somehow I can’t help feeling there is one. The problems he describes are vulnerable to accusations of taking a narrow ‘search for distinctiveness’ approach – in that they seem designed to provoke the various pro-statist (as he sees it) parts of the party to strong and emotive criticism. His advocacy is weakened as a result it seems to me. He seems to want to set out clear and distinct territory rather than persuade and reconcile. Maybe I am pointing out his choice of approach rather than criticising his work. He has his reasons no doubt.

    For example, there are no rules in tablets of stone about the % of GDP that should or can accounted for annually by state spending (a figure anyway much more difficult to measure than generally assumed, evidenced by the many problems in drawing conclusions from international comparisons). A more efficient poverty reduction approach may increase or decrease state spending in the longer run. He implies some kind of moral hazard problem with state spending….. ie spending must be reduced in order for the UK to compete internationally in the wake of the rise of the ‘BRICS’ and others. My own view is that the UK and European welfare , health & education systems are key strengths economically, and help us compete in the world. But that does not mean that the higher the spending the better the welfare system (ie automatically) – that would be a foolish conclusion. The key welfare question in my view is how to make it more effective at reducing poverty and deprivation (and en route how to genuinely reduce the number of people in need of certain sorts of welfare). Or perhaps that is better and more simply put as how to reduce poverty more effectively.

    We still have much to learn from other countries in Europe and the OECD on these questions, in my experience. Whilst Angela Merkel has made similar comments to Jeremy about welfare spending in Europe in a global context, Jeremy’s arguments (and Angela’s) are incomplete without an explanation as to how Germany’s economy is doing so well despite its ‘high’ welfare spending. Just because China’s state spending as a % of GDP is half that of Britain and Germany, that doesn’t mean we have to follow their example unthinkingly.

    From my own experience I strongly suspect that a much more effective system of poverty reduction, especially inter-generational poverty, will significantly reduce state spending on welfare. There lies the challenge. But to make spending cuts the aim in poverty reduction is to risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  • You first point is so true Caron and depressing how often you see this from both wings of the Party. Let’s discuss policies on their merit not “If you don’t agree with me your not a liberal…”

  • For all the people saying ‘you should read the book before commenting on it’ I’ve not seen any of those who have read it using it to point our where people who are criticising the ideas Browne puts forward are misrepresenting him. From what I can tell, articles like this and Nick Thornsby’s have given an accurate summation of the broad thrust of Browne’s proposals, if not the minute detail, and it’s perfectly fine to debate them, as I assume Browne’s purpose in writing it was to have those ideas discussed widely, not restricted to just those who’ve read it.

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Apr '14 - 1:00pm

    Paul Reynolds: “Just because China’s state spending as a % of GDP is half that of Britain and Germany, that doesn’t mean we have to follow their example unthinkingly.”

    Exactly. If we were to follow China’s example as regards the “size of the state”, we would have state-owned enterprises producing over half the goods and services and employing over half the workforce. Somehow, I don’t think this is the kind of thing Jeremy Browne and his ilk would like to emulate! Those state spending to GDP ratios don’t always tell you that much about the size of the state.

  • “I have not read this book.” …Sorry but I cringed massively when I read that line. Usually love your blogs but I don’t think it adds much to the debate when people are writing opinions about a book they have not read.

    I have read the chapter on education and its whole argument is to break down the privilege. I think it is a disgrace that in this country an elite of pushy middle class parents get educational choice whilst many put up with failing schools.

    In fact, throughout the book Jeremy Browne highlights that the country cannot continue to fail the poorest in society

    Whilst many Lib Dems have impressed me with their psychic powers of knowing all the detail in books without reading them, I urge people to read it. Its by no means perfect, but I think its refreshing to have such bold ideas.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Apr '14 - 1:27pm

    @ A social Liberal
    “I know this is pursuing a topic which is going horribly off thread, but Simon McGrath – do you really doubt that children from deprived backgrounds are statistically less likely to do well in school? So that any school which concentrates its efforts only in and for deprived areas is – unless it is financed much higher and therefor to the detriment of other schools (academies, free schools are examples of this) – much less likely to get those children to fly.”

    No – neither have i said that. We already have a policy of higher funding of schools in deprived areas – is called the pupil premium. Virtually the same thing as vouchers for poor children.

  • @ Gareth Epps

    Well I haven’t spent a tenner on it yet either. However as it seems obligatory amongst Liberal Democrats to hold a passionate view on its contents and as I couldn’t do that, with a clear conscience, without reading it I feel that the rest of the party is pressurising me into parting with my hard earned cash.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 2:07pm

    Helen Tedcastle

    It is not right-wing to want higher standards of education in schools.

    Sure, we can and have talked about this at more length elsewhere.

    My point is that I do share some of the concerns that motivate some of the people who advocate “Free Schools”. I mention Latin just as a totemic example, it’s something the free school advocates often raise as what free schools can offer but LEA schools can’t, which is nonsense as LEAs don’t have any power to direct their schools to teach Latin or not to. Also the formal study of language and grammar that comes with Latin actually is a highly useful preparation for my academic subject, Computer Science.

    I suspect people like Jeremy Browne think there’s committees of councillors and council officials who set school curricula and direct teachers in how to teach. Er, no. And since they base their arguments for “Free Schools” on this misassumption, it’s an indication of how out of touch with reality they are.

  • So many good articles on LDV in the last few days, so little time.

    The point I will make in passing is that I took a very different interpretation (bearing in mind I haven’t read the book) on the use of “authentic liberalism.”

    I assumed that it wasn’t an attempt to portray those who look to achieve liberal ends via different means (higher spending) as being un-authentic but to distinguish it from those policies put forward by Labour and Tory governments which had a couple of frills added at the end to try and claim them as “liberal” when the driver behind the approach was not in any way liberal.

    Perhaps I misunderstood his meaning but I can see how you can have two ideas that are “authentically liberal” both taking opposing approaches but both fundamentally aiming for the same outcome. Obviously it is possible that one idea may be very effective and one less so but it is the outcome it is seeking (and achieving) which make the idea liberal or not.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 2:14pm

    Stuart Mitchell

    Paul Reynolds: “Just because China’s state spending as a % of GDP is half that of Britain and Germany, that doesn’t mean we have to follow their example unthinkingly.”

    In China, as in most Asian countries, highly illiberal social attitudes contribute to keeping % of GDP spending down. I.e. tight controlling family structures mean that the sort of caring that here the state might do there is done by family members who are socially compelled to so.

    China’s one-child policy, again hardly a sparkling example of liberalism, means they’re going to hit big problems as their society ages. That’s the biggest driving force of % of GDP on state spending upwards, so right-wingers who go on about % of GDP on state spending rising without mentioning this factor are just demonstrating their cluelessness – or hiding what they know to be the truth, which is keeping the headline figure the same is in reality big cuts the level of services due to this factor. Can someone who has read Jeremy Browne’s book tell us whether he discusses this factor?

  • Free schools and academies are less free than locally accountable schools in many cases – all the more so if they are part of chains. Meanwhile, with the DfE so substantially depleted, there is an utter vacuum of accountability.

  • Peter Watson 10th Apr '14 - 3:33pm

    This is the sort of debate on LDV which – in a very good way – deeply frustrates me.
    I read plenty of excellent comments by people that remind me why this is the party that I used to vote for (and was once a member of). I start to think that I could vote Lib Dem again (and perhaps even rejoin).
    But then this thread is discussing recommendations by a senior figure in the party which reminds me why I’ll continue to vote against it.

  • I’ve never known a group who are quite so comfortable with the status quo in our failing education as the mainstream of the Liberal Democrats. It’s bloody depressing…

    Me: “Shall we give parents more power?”
    Lib Dems: “No because some parents make bad choices.”

  • @Thomas Long
    If an idea is flawed, it should be rejected. Those who want to achieve change, need to show that the proposed idea is better than the status quo. Anything else is just complacent.
    When will you be presenting such an argument? If you do not, you have only yourself to blame and that is indeed depressing

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th Apr '14 - 4:03pm

    @johntilley. Really there is no conspiracy and I am not co-ordinated with anyone.
    @meral. I look forward to your comments based on the arguments put forward in the book rather than the background of the person making them
    @ nick Collins. Fair point, of course, but that was also my point.

    I can understand why people want to question the arguments put forward by Jeremy Brown, but they should not be seen as toxic. It is time to move on and listen to the full range of liberal view points.

  • China is a totalitarian superstate not a functioning example of economic liberalism or classical liberalism. I find it endlessly amusing that right leaning economic types acknowledge this large elephant in the room. when they are eulogizing it for imagined low GDP spending or sound working practices.

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th Apr '14 - 5:19pm

    @johntilley. Really there is no conspiracy and I am not co-ordinated with anyone.
    @meral. I look forward to your comments based on the arguments put forward in the book rather than the background of the person making them
    @ nick Collins. Fair point, of course, but that was also my point.

    Having at least read some of the reviews now, I must say that it seems that Jeremy Browne is asking some of the right question. We take our position as a rich nation for granted, and fail to see that many of our advantages are being eroded. It seems sensible to ask whether the systems established after the Second World War are still fit for purpose as other countries develop, and we can no longer rely on the lead gained following our early industrialisation, and empire. I have seems this myself over a 30 years period doing business in Indian and China.

    I share the concerns raised that liberals should resist the concentration of wealth and power. In my experience those most insulated from global change benefit from Private education and and international ties. It is not wrong to examine how those advantages can be given to all.

    We must debate these points rather than trotting out conspiracy theories, and resisting all change because it is uncomfortable.

  • Thank goodness for Matthew H ,Gareth E & Helen T. It is amazing how people who have merely been to school – often private schools pronounce about education. What does Jeremy B really KNOW??
    A nit picking point for Helen is to question whether ‘good maths graduates’ equate to good maths teachers? I have ben quoted examples where this is not necessarily the case. The problem is that insufficient maths graduates currently go into teaching judging by the recruitment problems.

  • Peter Hayes 10th Apr '14 - 8:03pm

    Having read the Conservative Home review I think he is well on the blue wing of the party and several light years away from the party I have supported since Jo Grimond.

  • Andrew Tennant 10th Apr '14 - 9:29pm

    It’s the quality of the hyperbolic verbal diatribes between and against fellow members that gives such a warm fuzzy feeling about personal participation in this party.

  • Shirley Campbell 11th Apr '14 - 1:22am

    JadeD9th Apr ’14 – 9:00pm

    Caron for MP!

    Can we get caron elected pls, k, thx.

    Yes, please do.

  • Richard Dean 11th Apr '14 - 2:14am

    If critiquing a book on the basis of someone else’s review, without reading the actual book, is what LibDems do, then I’m so glad I stopped paying my subscription when it was last due.

    Frankly, I don’t want MPs or councillors who critique proposed legislation without actually looking at the proposals. I don’t want people critiquing budgets or policies without looking at them.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Apr '14 - 2:33am

    Richard, if a Lib Dem wrote a book called “the benefits of quantitative easing” – I wouldn’t have to read it before I had an opinion on it. In fact I don’t even think I could stomach to waste the time or money on it. Some people probably feel the same way about this. 🙂

    The “don’t judge it before you’ve read it” crowd do have a point against unfair criticism, but people can still comment on the news of the book.

  • The whole purpose of book reviews is to help people decide whether or not it’s worth their while to read the book. There isn’t enough time in any life to read all the books that have been written.

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Apr '14 - 9:29am

    @Jedibeeftrix
    “Right leaning types who advocate spending in the high thirties are doing no more and no less than asking for what we achieved in the nineties.”

    I think you’ll find most people were pretty unhappy with the level of spending on public services in the nineties – hence to a large extent the election results of 1997 and 2001.

  • @Eddie Sammon
    And
    @David-1

    A couple of voices of reason. I bet there are people here who vote in general elections without reading every manifesto. Who comment on The Budget without having read it. Who drive even though they have not read the latest version of The Highway Code. Of necessity, politicians , MPs, councillors, civil servants, business executives have to take decisions and voice opinions without necessarily having read all the books, all the papers, all the briefings. It is called real life.

    So as a public service for those who have not read Browne’s book, or have more important ways to spend their time and money, here is the one minute version —

    Browne’s book includes — 
    calls for the top rate of tax to be returned to 40%, 
    the introduction of school vouchers,
    Switching all schools to free schools aimed at profit, 
    reduction of the state to 35-38% of GDP, 
    the removal of ring fenced public spending from the NHS,
    “patient choice “,
    abolition of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, 
    big increases in infrastructure spending on new housing, roads,
    high speed rail and a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary 
    and House of Lords reform.
    Although, he argues for British membership of the European Union, Browne opposes the idea of “ever closer union”
    and various  Eurosceptic messages

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '14 - 11:56am

    Thomas Long

    I’ve never known a group who are quite so comfortable with the status quo in our failing education as the mainstream of the Liberal Democrats. It’s bloody depressing…

    Your line here, Thomas, seem to be that your way forward is the only possible way forward. You have just assumed that your way would work in the way you think it would work, and you have ignored all criticisms of it which come from those with more practical experience of what we are discussing. I believe the “free school” idea won’t work, because it is based on a false assumption, which is that Local Education Authorities direct what is taught in their schools and how.
    LEA schools are already free to do what those who advocate “Free schools” say they advocate them for, that is why they will not solve the problem, because you aren’t tackling the problem, you’re tackling some other non-existent problem and just assuming it will resolve what you are concerned about.

    Me: “Shall we give parents more power?”
    Lib Dems: “No because some parents make bad choices.”

    I don’t see anyone making that line here. LEA schools are directed by their governing bodies, which consist of local people, parents are free to get involved with them, and do. So taking school out of this arrangement is taking power way from parents, not giving it to them. In fact it is YOU, by saying that LEA schools, which are run by local people, are no good, who wants to take power away from parents and from local people generally who elect the LEA councillors because you believe they make bad choices, and that is why schools are failing as you suggest.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '14 - 12:16pm

    jedibeeftrix

    Right leaning types who advocate spending in the high thirties are doing no more and no less than asking for what we achieved in the nineties

    As I keep saying, there are forces which are pushing up share of GDP spent by the state, in particular the advancement of medical technology leading to much longer lifespans. If we want to continue with all necessary medical care free at the point of use, and state pensions, this WILL result in share of GDP spent by the state going up. There are other infrastructure and social pressures causing it to rise as well. For example, in a more complex society, we need better educated people, so if we say that education should be free at the point of use, that will cause share of GDP spent by the state to rise.

    I keep making this point in response to you making the above point which you do repeatedly, yet you have NEVER once responded to my point.

    Even since the 1990s there has been a big growth in what can be done medically, there has been a big rise in the proportion of the population which is elderly, there has been a big rise in the proportion of young people staying on at school after the age of 16 and a big rise in the proportion going on to higher education. That means that keeping proportion of the GDP spent by the state to a fixed level IS NOT a steady state no change thing, as you keep saying. It can only be met by a reduction in the level of services, or abandoning assumptions on what services the state will provide. It is simply nit “no more a d no less” as you claim.

    People like you who ignore that and pretend it isn’t the case are a menace because you are blocking proper discussion in this issue. You are making it seem there are easy answers to these dilemmas when there are not, just as those on the left who speak as if think that state spending comes from a magic money tree are blocking serious discussion.

    If the people of this country want state pensions to continue at their current level, and they want an NHS which will do all that can be done to keep them healthy and alive, and they want their children to be educated to the levels necessary for work in modern society without having to pay fees, them they MUST say what increased taxation they would want to pay for it. I see no evidence that don’t want these things. On the other hand, if people don’t want the extra taxation, they MUST say what things that used to be paid for through the state they will accept no longer being paid for through the state.

    I wish we could have some grown up politics in this country which could talk about these things so an informed democratic decision could be made, rather than people like you who hide the problem, pretend it doesn’t exist, won’t discuss it even when they are confronted with it, as I repeatedly confront you with it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '14 - 12:27pm

    Simon McGrath

    @matthew – I have no idea what point you are trying to make

    Why not? I think it is very obvious, I am just applying what you say about schools to universities.

    Your line seems to be that “good” schools are just a matter of the right management, so therefore if you have a school which is acknowledge to be “good” the answer to all our educational problem is for that school to expand, or to become a brand which expands by opening new schools under the same brand. Parents will vote with their feet and send their children to those schools. Other schools will close down, because who would want to send their children to those school, when the best school brand is opening its branches to everyone?

    So, wouldn’t this work for universities? Hand control of all universities to the acknowledged best universities, to the universities that everyone would want to go to if they were able to get a place. Have two brands of university, one called “Oxford” and the other called “Cambridge”, run by the people who currently run the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Bingo, by the very argument you use about schools, that would make every university in this country as good as Oxford and Cambridge are now.

  • Andrew Tennant 11th Apr '14 - 1:14pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    So does the per capita cost of delivering a consistent quality public service grow faster than the economy it help facilitate?

    Does a larger economy necessitate more spending for the same thing?

    Only public services can only be sustained and improved to the extent that our economy can viably pay for them. It’s surely better to see that burden falling through economic growth than being an every growing albatross dangling around our necks?

  • Helen Tedcastle
    You correctly observe that —
    “…those inclined towards the right don’t actually engage in debate…. ……Perhaps it’s because that ideology is thin on substance and not compatible with Liberalism.”

    Is it an inability to debate ? Or an unwillingness to debate ? Or do they think that they can just noisily march around and around until the walls of Liberalism come tumbling down?

  • Malcolm Todd 11th Apr '14 - 4:53pm

    Andrew Tennant
    You seem to be defining “public services” as a “burden”. Have I understood that correctly, or have you inadvertently truncated a more complicated argument to below the Planck limit on sense?

  • Jenny Barnes 11th Apr '14 - 5:43pm

    john Tilley “Who drive even though they have not read the latest version of The Highway Code. ”
    By observation, plenty don’t appear to have read any version.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Apr '14 - 11:12pm

    Andrew Tennant

    So does the per capita cost of delivering a consistent quality public service grow faster than the economy it help facilitate?

    As I said, lifespans are growing longer and have done so quite rapidly. It is not a matter of per capita costs, it is a much greater number of capita. I would have thought that point was obvious from what I wrote.

    Only public services can only be sustained and improved to the extent that our economy can viably pay for them. It’s surely better to see that burden falling through economic growth than being an every growing albatross dangling around our necks?

    I didn’t mention economic growth, did I?

    All I said was it has to be paid for. If the people of this country decide they are not willing to pay the taxation required for a guarantee of state health care, then they will have to pay for it in other ways. If people have to pay more in costs for private health care, isn’t this just as much an “albatross”?

    Anyone can say “my political ideas are so good that if put in place they will result in the economy doing so well that we don’t need to worry about budgets”. I would rather take the precaution of being concerned about budgets and being honest about the need to pay our way.

  • Andrew Tennant 12th Apr '14 - 2:05am

    @Malcolm Todd
    It’s obvious surely that taxpayer funded services have to be paid for? When you accept that then you’re left with ‘Is there enough money to meet the cost?’ and ‘Does the money spent provide any return on investment or sustainable value for money?’. The burden point relates to the former, potentially mitigated by the latter if the case can be made.

  • @Andrew Tennant
    “Only public services can only be sustained and improved to the extent that our economy can viably pay for them. ”

    Public services are part of the economy – the very economy that you say pays for public services. Public money also pays for private goods and services. You might as well ask if the size of our private sector be sustained without as much state spending? Can the private sector be sustained without a big enough public sector?

  • Paul In Twickenham 12th Apr '14 - 7:52am

    Mr. Browne is quoted in today’s Guardian as saying “Every political party and every politician has to be able to answer the question: if you didn’t exist why would it be necessary to invent you? …I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party.”

    So in two sentences Mr. Browne simultaneously disses the “strategy” of Mr .Clegg and his inner circle, while making it clear that his agenda is on the radical end of the right-wing. So with a month until elections that will determine the future of the Clegg leadership and its triangulating, centrist agenda, Mr. Browne throws a spanner into the works with what appears to be a deliberate intervention that appears to be timed to cause the most difficulty for the leadership.

    I have no idea what Mr. Browne is up to, but even hos apologists on this thread must accept that his current set of interventions are utterly unacceptable at this sensitive time in the election cycle.

  • Paul in Twickenham
    You are on the button as usual! Up to the minute and instinctively correct in your observation —-
    “….,,,,,,I have no idea what Mr. Browne is up to, but even his apologists on this thread must accept that his current set of interventions are utterly unacceptable at this sensitive time in the election cycle.”

    What is Browne up to? ? Or is this a case of “Hell hath no fury like a minister sacked” ???

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Apr '14 - 11:48am

    @Jedibeeftrix
    “This way, we achieve the dual aim of avoiding the situation where the state has undue power over the individual,”

    So how come some of the highest spending countries in the world have high levels of individual liberty, while some of the lowest spending countries have appalling levels of individual liberty? You don’t think a state could exercise undue power over the individual while spending, say, 20% of GDP?

  • The book has one merit, that of focusing on what is happening abroad. How insular the people in the UK have become and blind to the need of having an economy that can compete in a rapidly changing global economy.

  • Helen
    China challenge Confucianism more than a century ago and went on to overthrow it in a communist revolution. There is in fact now a renewed interest and Confucian Institutes are being set up across the world but they are more concerned with teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture in general.

  • Few Chinese today would call themselves Confucians, more likely Buddhist although a lot are becoming Christians.
    Not all Chinese students are hard working. I have had more than a few lazy so and sos but they don’t want to go to Britain and study. And the Chinese do not lack ingenuity in fact I well know one here with me right now who is full of good ideas.

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Apr '14 - 2:39pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    “Why some people think that we have to ape Chinese practices rather than learn from our top-performing European neighbours – with whom we have far more in common – beats me.”

    Quite. There is no reason for us to be jealous of China’s 82 new airports. On the contrary, the Chinese ought to be jealous of our personal liberties, democratic rights, lack of grinding poverty, low levels of pollution, and high levels of wealth per capita. Which, of course, they are. They should be striving to be like us much more than we should strive to emulate them.

  • Stuart
    Welcome to Singapore.

  • Helen Tedcastle
    Your line on China is one that I am happy to support. Just to add to the complexities of the religious jigsaw puzzle in modern China could I point to the very long established Islamic presence amongst the Chinese population.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Islam_in_China

    I also agree with the points made by Stuart Mitchell about those areas of life where the UK and Europe are way, way ahead of the Chinese.
    For example we do not imprison or put under house arrest our best known artist with a worldwide reputation.
    See Ai WeiWei. –
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ai+weiwei&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

    Jeremy Browne might want to reduce us all to mindless ” units of production” in his Great Game of a race against China but his vision is clouded.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Apr '14 - 4:20pm

    jedibeeftrix

    And yes, i have responded to this point, I have frequently noted the following when expressing a desire for spending to be kept under 40% of GDP:
    1. My priorities are >2.0% on Defence, <1.0% on europe, and let's see where the rest fits in with the ~36% of GDP available to HMG…

    No, you do not acknowledge, let alone respond to my central point here, any more than you have done all the times I have made it before against your claims that keeping to a fixed proportion of GDP state spending represents a no change situation in terms of levels of service.

    I have repeatedly pointed out to you that demographic factors mean that if people continue to expect the state to do what it can to keep them healthy and alive for as long as possible through the NHS, that WILL result in a rise in the proportion of GDP spent by the state. The corollary of this is that if the proportion of GDP spent by the state stays the same, the ability of the state to do this and the level of support it provides to do it will decline. This is what you refuse to acknowledge or respond to – your claims that keeping the level of state spending the same mean keeping the level of service the same are wrong because of this factor, you have no argument against what I have pointed out to you, but you just keep repeating this falsehood. There are other factors too pushing state spending up, but this is the most obvious and probably the largest.

    You suggest that doing what is necessary to keep the levels of state service the same means the state “has undue power over the individual”, well, I don’t know how many people in the UK think the existence of the NHS is an oppression, but my guess is very few. Similarly, I don’t think many people regarded the subsidy to higher education when it existed as an oppressive force – if they did, where are the crowds cheering us for taking away that oppression?

  • Helen
    There are about twenty active political parties in Singapore including the Singapore Democratic Party which is a member of Liberal International.
    In Singapore any student who studies hard can be successful regardless of social or ethnic background.
    John Tilley
    China has a long established small Jewish preseence for that matter at Kaifeng. They just held a Seder

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Apr '14 - 4:57pm

    @Manfarang
    You can’t really compare the UK with a city state like Singapore. Apples and oranges.

    In another thread a while ago someone held up Singapore as an example of a “small state” generating exceptional economic performance. As I pointed out to them, Singapore is run on state corporatist lines, with the government owning firms accounting for about 60% of GDP, and also owning about 80% of the housing. Much like China in fact, though I doubt whether this is the kind of thing Jeremy Browne has in mind when he says we need to be more like the Chinese.

  • Helen
    There is considerable British influence in Singapore. It was the British in colonial times that did the hanging.
    As regards education In recent years, while streaming still exists, various refinements to the policy have been made. There is now greater flexibility for students to cross over different streams or take subjects in other streams, which alleviates somewhat the stigma attached to being in any single stream. Furthermore, the government is now starting to experiment with ability-banding in other ways – such as subject-based banding in Primary Schools instead of banding by overall academic performance..
    China has some intresting mosques influenced by Chinese architecture.More than two million Hui are Sufis.
    In Yunnan Chinese Muslims have religious texts written over doorways.
    There are Yunnanese mosques in Mandalay and Chiang Mai.

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