Tag Archives: autumn conference 2018

Inequality and taxation

Since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, politicians – sadly including many in our own party – have denigrated taxation, reduced the levels of income tax and switched tax from income and wealth to consumption. All mainstream political parties have perpetuated the myth that you can have low taxes and good public services. When I first worked, in the late sixties, the basic rate of income tax was 33% and the top rate was 98%. This had persisted since the war, regardless of which of the main parties was in power. The basis for these levels of taxation was the need to pay for public services, including a good number in public ownership. There was also a view that the gap between the bottom and top of the income scale should not be too large. Broadly people accepted this post war settlement, except of course for a few very highly paid individuals – like the Rolling Stones, who went to live abroad.

Mrs Thatcher, a disciple of economist Milton Friedman, changed all that. Tax rates at the top plummeted to 60% (and later to as low as 45%) and basic rates declined a little. Soon taxation on consumption was to rise and there were new taxes too. The argument used was that income tax was stifling enterprise and that letting people keep more of their own money would incentivise them to invest and develop new businesses. The corollary was that there was less money for public services and an inexorable squeeze on those services was started by Mrs Thatcher, continued by John Major and compounded by Gordon Brown. The coalition made it worse.

At the same time inequality started to get worse. Over time the ratio of top earners pay to shop floor workers’ pay went up from about 4:1 in the immediate post war years, then to 10:1 and much more in some cases, even as high as 50:1. Peter Mandelson may have been relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they paid their taxes, but the effects of this huge widening of inequality has had devastating effects on our society, as detailed in ‘The Spirit Level’ by Kate Pickett et al.

The reductions in income tax continued, urged on by the millionaire owners of the press and media. Despite the big increases in personal allowances the gap between the top and bottom has continued to grow and with it the breakdown of the caring society some of us still remember. The politics of envy, stoked by the advertising industry, create a society filled with anxiety, mental illness and violence. In many areas people don’t even know their neighbours, let alone love them. Gated communities tell you just how uncaring we have become.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 34 Comments

What’s your favourite thing about Liberal Democrat Conference?

In just over 9 weeks’ time, thousands of Lib Dems will be packing up and heading to Brighton for four days of serious debate, fun and thought-provoking fringe meetings.

This Saturday, Federal Conference Committee will have a very loooooong meeting to decide how they will fill up four days by the sea.

We’ve had a couple of posts about some of the motions submitted by members. Only a small fraction will make it on to the agenda. If you want to make a pitch for yours, there’s still time – just send …

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Registration opens for Autumn Conference

The most fun any Lib Dem member can have on a day that isn’t Eurovision or Christmas or a new series of Doctor Who is Conference. Registration is now open for this year’s 4 day bash in Brighton from 15-18 September.

The registration page on the website isn’t yet open, but members should have received an email inviting them to register. The process is really quick and easy. I’ve done it in 5 minutes this morning.

As you register you get the chance to donate to the Conference Access Fund, which makes Conference …

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Embracing Diversity

In September 2017 I wrote an article for Libdemvoice called Time to Stand and Stare. The basic message of my piece was that it is important to take time for quiet contemplation to ensure the action we do then take is well considered and hopefully therefore more effective.

This approach is well summed up by this quote from the Quaker John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868 – 1905);

In the noisy rush of modern life we need periods of quiet when the soul may feed in peace on that which shall nourish it for action

It was Wilhelm’s inspiration that was behind the founding …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Your last chance to help us build a liberal immigration policy

There’s been a bit of a confusion over the last dates to respond to the policy consultations that the party is running at the moment.

The policy papers themselves give Friday 31st March 2018 as the final date. However, you haven’t missed the boat as the party website says we have until 4th April.

This is just as well, as I have left my response to the 67 questions of the immigration paper until the last minute as usual. I have to say that the consultation paper is one of the most profoundly depressing things I have ever …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments
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  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Jul - 1:11am
    And should the Lib Dems merge, my lads, and should the Lib Dems die, There's 20.000 South-Westerners would know the reason why! Sorry, all this...
  • User AvatarIan Patterson 23rd Jul - 12:09am
    @ James Graham - gets first prize in stating blooming obvious. Banging on about Brexit for last 2 years has got us nowhere, as my...
  • User AvatarJoeB 23rd Jul - 12:02am
    Why not just read the update in the article that spells out what Vince Cable has to say about political realignment rather then speculating about...
  • User AvatarJames Graham 22nd Jul - 10:52pm
    I really do not understand why Vince is off gallivanting looking to help set up a new party. He has a job to do, namely...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 22nd Jul - 10:09pm
    Talking about a new moderate Centre Party, there seems to have been a good surfeit of modexation on LDV recently. Free speech 'n all that...
  • User AvatarTim O'Brien 22nd Jul - 10:05pm
    Thank you Interesting article and I endorse much of it. I wanted to comment but WordPress would not allow me to be so wordy. so...