Tag Archives: reform

Towards a Referendum Programme for Remain

The original remain campaign was negative and defensive. Nigel Farage, in his debate with Nick Clegg, has been described as “pushing on an open door”. Is all we can offer negatives – there is no European Army – there is no federal state – Turkey is not going to become a member – when all of these things are partly untrue?

Our opponents will say that “remain in the EU as we were before” would be to ignore the previous result; to betray the people’s vote, to disillusion the country and cast doubt on democracy itself.

The Remain …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 35 Comments

Reform the Reformers – Part 2, Challenges in Updating Liberal Democracy

There are two types of people in this world. Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t.

The rise of left and right wing populism points reformers towards updating liberal democracy.

The remedies that left and right populists peddle are remarkably similar; one-party regimes, state control of the economy, dismantling the ‘separation of powers’, nationalism, and a rapid increase in state spending.

Less attention, however, is paid to the parallel rise of liberal, pro-democracy parties in government; Canada, Netherlands, South Korea, Malaysia, Ireland and elsewhere.

There are many lessons to be learned from liberal-democratic parties in these countries, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

The Independent View: Incentives matter in our education system

Incentives matter in our education system. The right ones encourage our schools and teachers to deliver the very best education the system has to offer.

Yet in the run up to the general election, politicians would have us think otherwise. Rather than creating the incentives for excellence to spread, they seek to drive performance from the centre. Cross-party support for a new college of teaching illustrates this shift in rhetoric, with politicians trying to magic more high quality teachers without thinking about the underlying incentives. The so-called “Cinderella” teaching profession really has found its fairy godmother.

The academy school programme is all about incentives. By freeing schools from local authority control and management, the aim is to allow innovation to drive better education for pupils.

Yet better incentives are needed if academies are to drive large scale transformation across the country. According to a survey of academy schools Reform published last year, many academies are inhibited from using their freedom to innovate. Two thirds of the 654 academies surveyed had yet to make changes to the curriculum, staff terms and conditions or the school day, despite having the freedom to do so.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

The Independent View: Keep academy freedoms – and extend them to all schools

schoolsignThe question whether to curtail or extend academy freedoms to state-funded schools was resurrected last October in a speech by Nick Clegg. The answer he put forward was to extend academy freedoms to all schools, albeit in a limited form. Clegg would like to claw-back the freedoms academies have over unqualified teachers and the curriculum, but to extend the remaining freedoms to all state-funded schools.

 Clegg’s new-found middle way is based on a belief that guaranteeing high standards in education is best achieved by curtailing autonomy. In October 2013, he said: “There is nothing…inconsistent in believing that greater school autonomy can be married to certain core standards for all.”

 Yet high levels of autonomy and accountability are conducive to high pupil attainment. The Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, has said that England’s multiple measures of accountability, along with a “high level of autonomy and discretion at the front line”, are key to success in education.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Independent View: why we should all campaign for full recall

For over six years now I have worked on Parliamentary campaigns such as the Sustainable Communities Act and the Climate Change Act. I have done this as an independent freelance, unaffiliated to any political party and always seeking cross party support.

This experience has given me a deep insight into our system of governance from the Ministers and senior civil servants at the top, whom I meet in Westminster and Whitehall, to communities at the bottom, whom I meet at campaign public meetings that I speak at across the country.

Our democratic system desperately needs reform. People increasingly feel disconnected …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 19 Comments

Opinion: Don’t reform the House of Lords; scrap it

After the humiliating defeat of the AV referendum, a system to which no party aspired to before the General Election, and the disastrous rout of elected Lib Dems in Scotland and England, serious questions must be asked about the future direction of the party and its place in the coalition government.

In order to reclaim the trust of the British electorate, we need to be bold and radical, and we must speak up for the aspirations of the British people, particularly the disillusioned young; the Facebook generation, who are the future of our democracy. Despite Nick Clegg’s promise of a ‘New …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 33 Comments
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