Tag Archives: julian astle

LibLink: Julian Astle – Education is the route to really “taking back control”

Julian Astle — one time adviser to Paddy Ashdown and more recently a senior Lib Dem policy advisor in the coalition — has just taken up an appointment as Director of Creative Learning and Development at the RSA.

Julian’s been writing over on the RSA blog about the real lessons from the referendum:

The moment Britain leaves the European Single Market will be the economic equivalent of stepping off a travellator onto terra firma – a decelerating jolt, followed by the realisation that you now have to move a lot faster simply to travel at the same pace.

So how, without the propulsion that free access to a market of 500 million consumers provides, can we maintain – or even increase – the speed at which our economy grows?

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Liberal Reform announces new Advisory Council and housing focus

Liberal Reform advisory councilAs part of the next stage of our development, Liberal Reform has set up an Advisory Council representing a broad group of campaigners and policy experts to advise the elected Board and help ensure our broad Liberal heritage is represented in the party.

I’m delighted that the following prominent Liberal Democrats have agreed to join the Council, with more to follow: Norman Lamb MP, Jeremy Browne, Baroness Jenny Randerson, David Laws, Miranda Green, Julian Astle and Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

Since Liberal Reform was formed a few years ago it has become clear that there is a real appetite in the party for balanced four-cornered Liberalism — personal, political, social and economic — and that all of these elements are needed for us to rebuild the party as a radical, progressive force.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 27 Comments

Top 50 most influential Lib Dems (according to Iain Dale)

In what has become a regular of party conference season, the Daily Telegraph has published a list of the 50 most influential Liberal Democrats assembled by “Iain Dale, Brian Brivati and a team of Liberal Democrat insiders”:

As one MP put it, the year has been “about the rise of the left”. Confidence in the party outside Westminster has grown even as polling numbers remained minimal. Liberal Democrats seem to have discovered that even in government the world does not end if you disagree. And this has given rise to a new breed of rebel, personified in Tim Fallon, Lib

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LibLink: Julian Astle – The alchemists of liberalism have left their parties behind

Over at the Guardian, former Paddy Ashdown advisor Julian Astle has an interesting (but controversial) piece in which he argues that there is a ‘secret club’ of cross-party, centrist, liberal-minded reformers at the heart of British politics, who have run the country for the 15 of the last 18 years.

Here’s a sample:

Consider the ease with which the Lib Dems and Conservative leaderships put together a radical coalition agreement. Or the extent to which that agreement builds on the agenda pursued by the Blairites in their second and third terms. “Reform” in welfare, schools, higher education funding

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – The report every school reformer should read

Over on his blog at The Telegraph, former director of the Centre Forum think tank, Julian Astle, highlights a report by researchers at the London School of Economics looking into the effect of academies. The findings are good news for supporters of greater autonomy for schools, and one of the (perhaps surprising) conclusions of the analysis is that academies don’t just raise standards for the pupils that attend them, but also for surrounding schools, even as they lose pupils to the new academies.

Here’s what the report has to say on that last point, followed by a brief conclusion from Julian:


Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – Is Nick Clegg’s time as Lib Dem leader coming to an end?

Is Nick Clegg’s time as Lib Dem leader coming to an end? Over on his Telegraph blog, Julian Astle poses a question which undoubtedly deserves a place on John Rentoul’s list of Questions To Which The Answer Is No – while also answering another QTWTAIN which others have posed.

And here’s why Julian think Clegg is here to stay:

First, the coalition is supported by the political equivalent of the “automatic stabilisers” which ensure that the weaker the coalition partners become, the stronger the coalition gets. Why? Because just as turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, so politicians don’t  trigger general elections if they

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 36 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – Chris Huhne’s Third Way

Even before the results of Thursday’s various polls were known, there was quite a bit of chatter about how energy secretary Chris Huhne is positioning himself to become Lib Dem leader. Unfortunately, much of this chattering was carried out by people who clearly don’t know very much about the Liberal Democrats – or at least pretend not to – and consequently much of the analysis was almost certainly wrong.

One person who does understand the Liberal Democrats is Julian Astle, former advisor to Paddy Ashdown, and here’s a sample of his take on Huhne’s recent behaviour on his Telegraph blog:

Most likely,

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 5 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – Reports of the Lib Dems’ death have been greatly exaggerated

Over on his Telegraph blog Julian Astle, after much focus this week on the Liberal Democrats’ short-term prospects in the upcoming local and devolved elections, takes a look at the party’s likely fortunes over a slightly longer period.

It’s a lengthy but perceptive piece which is well worth a read, but in the meantime here’s a short taster:

It would be a mistake to think that the Lib Dems are where they are because of circumstances alone, however. Clegg heads a serious and ambitious cohort of MPs who have no interest in the politics of perpetual opposition. They want to change the

Posted in LibLink | 16 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – ‘Lib Dems to change their logo, their name, their direction and their leader.’ Really?

Julian Astle, former Paddy Ashdown adviser, has blogged his reaction to a piece in last week’s Sunday Telegraph which claimed that the Liberal Democrats are planning to change – as Julian puts it – “their logo, their name, their direction and their leader”.

Of these, Julian speculates that there is a possibility that the party’s logo may change in some way during this Parliament. However here’s what Julian has to say about the latter three – as one might expect, he’s pretty sceptical:

The Liberal Democrat party was created by the merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (it

Posted in LibLink | 5 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – Coalition’s economic gamble still stands

Over on the website of the Financial Times, director of the liberal Centre Forum think-tank, Julian Astle, argues in his response to the budget that the route to medium- to long-term sustainable economic growth will be the “patient application of liberal economic principles”, not only by the Chancellor but also by the business secretary, Vince Cable.

What does this mean? Julian explains:

This means clearing the way for growth through labour market flexibility, liberalising our overly restrictive planning laws and protecting businesses (particularly small businesses) from unnecessary and burdensome regulation. The chancellor has sought to do exactly this today.

A liberal approach, however,

Posted in LibLink | 5 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – Not finking straight

Over on his Telegraph blog, director of the Centre Forum think tank and former Paddy Ashdown adviser, Julian Astle, casts his analytical eye over a piece on the alternative vote by the Times’s Danny Finkelstein.

Here’s a short extract from the post, but do go and read the whole piece – there are even some charts, for those of you who are that way inclined:

What is remarkable is the movement of the dots from the red and blue triangles into the white area in the centre, showing the growth in the number of MPs (now around two thirds) who do not enjoy the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

LibLink: Julian Astle – The real threat to the Coalition’s public services reforms doesn’t come from the EU

Over on his Telegraph blog, Julian Astle, director of the CentreForum think-tank and former adviser to Paddy Ashdown, argues that the real threat to the coalition’s plans to reform public services comes not from European law, but more pertinently from the system of national pay bargaining.

Here’s an excerpt:

Although the government is trying to raise standards across the board, its particular focus is on reducing the UK’s intolerably high levels of health and educational inequality. But as Professor Alison Wolf has demonstrated, it is the system of national pay bargaining that locks these inequalities in place. Leave that system in place, and all the Government’s

Posted in LibLink | 12 Comments

Changes at CentreForum

Two significant changes of staff are happening at the CentreForum think tank, with current director Julian Astle leaving in April after three years as director and with Tim Leunig joining as Chief Economist. Tim will be familiar to many of our readers as a regular commenter and occasional contributor on this site.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

LibLink: David Laws and Julian Astle – Coalition must not waste the pupil premium

Over at the Financial Times today, former Lib Dem cabinet minister David Laws and CentreForum’s director Julian Astle write about the potential of the ‘pupil premium’ to transform the life chances of pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds — but argue that schools must be held accountable for using the money directly for this purpose. Here’s an excerpt:

The pupil premium, which for the first time will see a universal service underpinned by an explicitly pro-poor funding system, sits front-and-centre in this agenda.

At present there is additional school funding for young people from deprived backgrounds, but it is allocated in

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LibLink: Julian Astle – How Lib Dems are being defamed

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, the director of liberal think-tank Centre Forum, Julian Astle, gives a personal take on what it’s like as a Lib Dem to be taunted as a Tory by Labour’s “deficit deniers”, and parises the Coalition measures he believes should cheer all progressives. Here’s an excerpt:

Deficit denial may have its advantages if you are an opposition politician vying for the leadership of your party. Take that denial into government, however, and the consequences would be catastrophic. … The uncomfortable truth is that, to bring in a lot of money, governments have no

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 23 Comments

LibLink: Lib Dems back cuts to reinvent the state, not to reduce it – Julian Astle

Julian Astle, a Director of CentreForum, has an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph about the party’s attitude towards the state and cuts:

There aren’t many Liberal Democrats who went into politics to shrink the state. It is true that many Liberals, like Conservatives, are sceptical about the ability of big, centralised bureaucracies even to function efficiently, let alone bring about social and economic change. But this scepticism leads them to policy conclusions quite distinct from those advocated by small-government Tories.

The primary goal for Liberals is not to reduce public spending per se, but to devolve public spending and other decisions to

Posted in LibLink | 15 Comments

The Guardian asks, “What happens if Cameron loses?”

Here’s a bit of fun speculation, at least if you’re not a Tory. Let’s suppose most of the last 10 days’ polls are right, and David Cameron’s Tories are destined to have fewer MPs than Labour in the House of Commons (even if they win more votes) – what would the Tories do?

That’s the question Andy Beckett ponders in today’s Guardian.

Would David Cameron resign or be forced to quit? According to Tim Bale, author of The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron, he’d be safe if he chooses to be:

“You’ll get lots of huffing and puffing on

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