Tag Archives: mutuals

Housing, Liberalism, and Mutualism

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Liberals have long believed that wide property ownership, serving as a bulwark against state tyranny, is essential to the preservation of liberty.  However, our pluralism has ensured that we have historically been committed to a diversity of housing models, including social housing. With the need for our party to engage with, and empower, communities who often feel forgotten, and deprived of real power over their lives, Liberal Democrats must offer a clear, distinctive, and liberal approach to social housing. What should this look like?

In recent years, various local authorities have brought their housing stock under their direct control,  replacing arms-length management organisations, and other local authorities, including my own, Gateshead Council, are planning to do likewise.

However, both of these models – the ‘partial privatisation’ offered by arms-length management organisations and the (local) statism of in-house control –  suffer from the same weakness: they deny tenants meaningful control over the management of their homes. Just as ‘Tenant panels’ and ‘Focus groups’ are not a substitute for participatory democracy, the opportunity to lobby local Councillors, in the hope that they will come to aid of a tenant, ignores the need to decentralise and devolve power to the level at which it should be exercised: with the tenant. Both of the above models exemplify the stale and dull bureaucratic managerialism of much of local government and are premised on a paternalistic ethic that has little, if any, concern with empowering local residents to take ownership of their communities.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Opinion: The feeling’s mutual, isn’t it?

The Coalition are feeling mutual love at the moment. A love for public service mutuals that is. A multiplicity of support programmes, funds and policy initiatives have been initiated since 2010 (although the process was technically kickstarted under New Labour), in the hope that a ‘mutual revolution’ will envelope public services and unleash a wave of latent entrepreneurialism from frontline workers. Francis Maude has expressed the rather utopian aspiration that by 2015, 1 million public sector workers will be working in one of these new public service mutuals.

On the face of it, what’s not to like about a …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Work places are communities too

As Liberal Democrats we are committed to the concept of people participating and exercising democratic rights in their communities. But we usually identify communities geographically, in the villages or the wards where we can deliver our Focuses.  During yesterday’s debate on Mutuals, Employee Ownership and Workplace Democracy (F22 in the Conference Agenda) Alan Sherwood reminded us that the workplace is also a significant community for many people. So workplace democracy is a natural extension of community politics.

In moving the motion, which derived from a policy paper, Martin Horwood went further and claimed that not only should Liberal Democrat …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Laurence Cox
    @Mel Borthwaite, This is essentially the same criticism I made of GBI before the conference in response to Kevin Langford's article in LDV https://www.li...
  • Jason Connor
    Does financial incentives mean bribes? I hope not. Cycling units have been installed on council estates and blocks near me and are barely used. Perhaps because ...
  • Sam Barratt
    It is great to read your experience Luke! I hope it encourages those who are able to consider donating to the access fund to do so (https://libdems.secure.force...
  • Thomas Prince
    @Mark Johnston - I think that Guardian article is a good reflection of the positives and negatives of the speech. Some good lines; some topics tackled; but litt...
  • Thomas Prince
    @James Belchamber: I've written an alternative speech that doesn't shy away from Europe and includes Swinson's most famous slogan (epitaph?). But I think the to...