Tag Archives: greens

Can the Greens’ Universal Basic Income tackle poverty?

The Greens in this election are promising in their manifesto “a Universal Basic Income, paid to all UK residents to tackle poverty and give financial security to everyone”. They state that their Universal Basic Income (UBI) will replace the current benefits system. And they will phase it in over five years. The rates are £89 per week for working age adults, and £178 per week for pensioners. They will provide an unstated amount as a supplement for people with disabilities and lone parents. For families earning under £50,000 there will be £70 per week for each of the first two children and £50 for each additional child. However, it seems they are not paying Housing Benefit to new claimants once UBI has been introduced. Their manifesto states that they will, “Continue to pay Housing Benefit to those who received it before UBI was introduced, so that they can cover their rent (page 50).

For those in full time work the £89 a week is in fact only £40.92 a week because the Income Tax Personal Allowance of £12,500 would be scrapped.

They estimate the cost of the UBI, the supplements and free childcare at £86.2 billion. They state they will provide 35 hours of free childcare for all from the age of 9 months. This is more than we are promising because we are only providing free childcare for working parents for children aged 9 months to two years. This is estimated to cost £12.3 billion in 2024/25. Therefore the Greens are spending less than £73.9 billion to introduce their Universal Basic Income while abolishing Housing Benefit for new claimants.

The Greens benefit reforms will leave most people who would qualify for benefits today in poverty. Using the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s figure in their
“UK Poverty 2018” updated by inflation for April 2019 the poverty levels excluding housing costs per week are:

Single person no children £157.62
Single person with two children £325.88
Couple with no children £271.58
Couple with two children £439.84

Turning to the Greens’ proposals these are what people would receive if not working:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Now comes the hard part

We Lib Dems have had a great three months. The local elections were good, the European elections outstanding, we got a high-profile defection from the crumbling Tiggers, and we’ve just won a by-election in a Leave area. We’ve even had our new leader going down very well among voters we need to attract.

But now comes the hard part. As the celebrations from Brecon & Radnorshire die down, we need to recognise that we only won there because the Greens and Plaid Cymru stood aside. It was the smart decision, but they will want something in return, indeed the Lib Dem brand is still mud in Green circles for our perceived lack of generosity in responding to the Greens’ offer to stand aside in 12 of our target seats in the 2017 general election.

We must therefore get our head around what we can usefully give in return, and anyone who remembers the difficulties of deciding who should stand in which seat when the Liberal and Social Democrat parties merged in the late 1980s will know it won’t be easy. It is not my job to carve up seats – wiser counsels are working on that – but there are a few things we Liberal Democrats would do well to get our heads around.

The main one is that we will have to give something up, and it will be painful. If we are to be politically mature and rise to the challenge of the Johnson/Farage regressive alliance, we will have to stand aside (or at least do no work) in seats where there will be dedicated Lib Dems who have worked their patch for years, and who will probably feel after the recent results that they’re finally on the verge of a breakthrough. Whether they really are or not is irrelevant – they will have worked for the Lib Dem cause yet it will feel as if they’re being asked to put the last five years’ work on the bonfire.

Having said that, in strategic terms, what we can usefully offer the Greens and Plaid may not cost us that much.

At the 2017 general election, there were 14 seats in which the Greens were ahead of the Lib Dems, and in 2015 the Greens came second to either Labour to the Tories in four. The chances of us winning these seats are negligible, and the likelihood of us winning other seats if we can ‘trade’ some of these 14 for the Greens assisting us in some of our targets is immense. Not every Lib Dem voter will vote Green (that’s something the Greens will have to suck up, just as not every Green voter will vote for us if there’s no Green candidate), but if the Greens stand aside in seats we can win to avoid splitting the Remain vote, in return for us doing the same in some of their targets, it could be a major gain at very little cost.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 67 Comments

Bar Charts!

I’ve had an idea about bar charts! It’s way outside my area of expertise, but indulge me.

Right, Northern Ireland has a unique set of parties and in Scotland and Wales the national parties have disrupted the ability of the LabCon duopoly to “game” First Past the Post. In England, though, LabCon game First Past the Post for all its worth. They do everything they can to maintain a dichotomy, “them or us”. Then they run a “project fear” on “them”.

Our campaigning tasks are to avoid being “them” and be an independent, viable, option.

I have previously suggested that we can avoid  being “them” by criticising neither duopoly party individually but only the duopoly as an unified entity.

As for establishing ourselves as real contenders, nationally this is going well.

Locally, though, I can see problems with the bar charts we use to make the case that we are a winning bet. Here we too often play exactly that “us and them” dichotomy that hurts us so much nationally. Nationally we need people to abandon voting for the least-worst-possible winner. Locally, though it’s all “only we can…” and “can’t win here”; straight out of the duopoly playbook. And all too often we dishonestly distort data to present the “story” we want to tell.

Now, after the elections for the European Parliament we have no need to distort as there is always some data that, fairly presented, will tell the story that we are in the race. In a constituency where we came second in 2017, that data can be presented. In my constituency, Lewisham and Deptford, we didn’t do so well in 2017 (to say the least). In the EU elections, though, we came first in Lewisham borough! That data can be used. In some areas of London we came third. Coming first in the region as a whole, though, allows that data to be used. What of a constituency where we did badly, in an electoral area where we did badly and a region where we didn’t do so well? The UK wide EU results put us in second place: those results will tell the story.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Liberal Democrats will not field a candidate against Caroline Lucas

Liberal Democrats in Brighton Pavilion last night decided not to field a candidate in Brighton Pavilion against Greens co-leader Caroline Lucas.

From the Mirror:

Lib Dem President Sal Brinton said: “ Liberal Democrats across the country are challenging Theresa May’s Conservative Brexit government. As in previous elections, a limited number of local parties are considering how best to provide that challenge in their constituencies.

This comes after the Greens stepped aside in Richmond Park to give us a clear run.

What is also significant is that close to Brighton is the constituency of Lewes which we narrowly lost by less than the Greens …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 31 Comments

A tale of two conferences in Bournemouth

It was a little weird leaving Bournemouth a week past on Wednesday to think that the Greens would be moving into the same space a couple of days later.

The Liberal Democrat Conference had a super atmosphere and was always very busy. I couldn’t believe the number of people who attended those 9am sessions to do such things as scrutinise the financial accounts and most times when I went into the hall for speeches or policy debates the only seats left were in the gods.

All the fringe meetings were packed to capacity as the Conference was the biggest we’d ever had in terms of members attending. It was great to meet so many new members, too and all I spoke to were having a great time.

Lib Dem member Ryan Lailvaux, attending his first Conference, said:

What an amazing conference it had been. An opportunity to meet great human beings and take back wonderful memories. Never have I been so inspired or so proud to be part of a movement. A liberal movement.

Compare and contrast with this article on Bright Green which talks about the Greens event:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Well that’s different! Boyband broadcasts and Nick Clegg going ape

So what do you make of the Greens boy-band broadcast?

I love the idea. It’s something a bit different. However, it is not fair to put the Liberal Democrats in the same group as Nigel Farage and UKIP. I really object to that. I don’t like being lumped into the establishment with Tories and Labour, but Farage is going too far. Lumping any of us in with a party whose leader thinks demonising people with HIV as part of his “be shocking and awful” strategy is really unfair.

We can be sure that everyone’s going to watch it. I suspect there will be many people who hadn’t realised what an old-fashioned socialist bunch this lot were. Nationalise the railways? How much is that going to cost?

It’s interesting that they’ve done a broadcast that doesn’t even have their leader in it.

It’s all a bit unconventional.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

The Greens: the Lib Dem fightback begins

Yesterday’s news that the Greens had overtaken the Liberal Democrats in terms of membership – their 44713, compared to our 44680 – has, from what I’ve seen on my social media, galvanised our activists rather than demoralised them. And so we should be proud of ourselves. For a party in government in the most trying economic circumstances since the 30s to have grown for 6 quarters in a row is nothing short of miraculous. The Labour party couldn’t manage that and they had the most benign economic circumstances in years.

The Green’s figures include Northern Ireland which ours don’t so like for like it’s more neck and neck.  (Update: Adam Ramsay on Twitter assures me that the Greens figures do not include Northern Ireland).  I’ve also seen some people say that it’s not fair because the Scottish Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales are two separate organisations. There’s no point in splitting hairs, though.

The Party has been making a bit of a concerted effort to make sure that the Greens don’t have the stage for themselves. Tim Farron has written an article of the New Statesman in which he emphasises what the Liberal Democrats have done in government to protect the environment:

The Conservatives’ approach to the environment in Europe shows what sort of approach they would take if they are allowed to govern alone. In coalition, Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind and stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy. And while senior Conservative politicians voice their doubts about man-made climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions. Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories from lurching to the right on the environment. The truth is, the only way to make blue go green is by adding yellow.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 182 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 14th Dec - 8:28pm
    Congratulations Mark. You are right to point out that "Our increased share of the vote, more second places and enlarged party membership, added to the...
  • User Avatargavin grant 14th Dec - 7:57pm
    Congratulations Mark. A new Leader, President and CEO - all give us the chance to learn and make the changes to our Party. Liberal values...
  • User AvatarPaul Murray 14th Dec - 7:53pm
    Warmest congratulations, Mark. It is good that we have someone with your campaigning experience and grassroots awareness in the post of President. I look forward...
  • User AvatarWilliam Francis 14th Dec - 7:49pm
    @Frankie Labour and the Tories and the SNP all have a core vote which they appeal to, and entire professions and industries exist on the...
  • User AvatarPatrick 14th Dec - 7:40pm
    I don't understand the talk about disastrous campaign, when Lib Dems increased their vote more than any other party, adding more than.50% to the previous...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 14th Dec - 7:17pm
    "Who is on the Campaign Committee? We do not appear to elect them, and they have had the same Chair for years." Presumably the Campaign...
Tue 7th Jan 2020