Tag Archives: wealth

Universal Inheritance: A Big Radical Liberal Idea

Now more than ever the Liberal Democrats need new imaginative radical policies. Big idea politics is back with a vengeance as both Labour and the Conservatives indulge in increasingly extreme visions for the country.

If we as a party are to successfully challenge both Labour’s socialism and Tory Brexit nationalism, then we need to engage in the ‘battle of ideas’ and develop our own clear alternative. Liberalism has a long radical heritage stretching back more than three centuries. Throughout the history of liberal political thought, liberals have consistently championed ways of spreading power, wealth, opportunity and ownership to individuals.

In the 20th century, Liberals campaigned under the slogan of ‘Ownership for All’. This was a radical social liberal vision of a more egalitarian capitalist society; where citizens would have the right to own capital and have democracy in their workplaces. This led to the Liberal Party supporting worker cooperatives, profit-sharing and corporate power-sharing models between bosses and workers. The Oxford University academic, Stuart White, refers to this tradition as alternative liberalism.

One central aspect of the radical liberal ownership agenda is the establishment of a citizens’ wealth fund (also called a sovereign wealth fund). This is a publicly-owned fund made up of national wealth, taxed wealth and national investments in shares, land and natural assets. Such funds work successfully from Norway to Alaska. Vince Cable and Liberal Democrat party members gave their overwhelming backing to a citizens’ wealth fund at this year’s party conference in Brighton. 

But how should the wealth amassed in a citizens’ wealth fund best be used? One answer is to deliver a universal inheritance as outlined in a recent report for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Universal inheritance is the idea of having a one-off universal capital grant paid to citizens when they turn 25 years of age. The IPPR envisions that a citizens’ wealth fund could eventually pay out a universal inheritance of £10,000 to every 25-year-old. The basic rationale for the policy is that asset-poor young people should share in the nation’s wealth at the start of their adult lives, when many are starting their careers.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

The problem with a wage cap

Jeremy Cobyn’s proposal to bring in a maximum wage (or, if you like, a 100% tax rate) would not work, for two reasons. The first, is that the swing voters he needs to attract would never vote for a party with this potty policy. If you are flirting with voting for the Conservatives, you are not going to like the idea of a wage cap.

If any further discussion is needed, then the second reason is that it would not have the intended effect. Presumably the reason to bring down wages would be to reduce inequality. But most rich people do not get their income from salaries, but from dividends, capital gains, rental income etc.

I don’t know if the Duke of Westminster takes a salary, but capping it would not change one iota the fact that he owns a huge swathe of London’s most valuable real estate. If your only source of income is your salary, then capping it only stops you being able to catch up with the already-rich. Or encourages you to take income in other forms. 

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

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:40am
    Sorry for typos, it is one forty am!
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:37am
    Can I say this. Despite being involved on a more cross party trajectory in recent years post coalition and referendum, despite regarding cross party involvement...
  • User AvatarPatrick 22nd Oct - 12:00am
    Also, I'm thinking that now that Dr Phillip Lee has been given the justice brief, he has a great opportunity to prove his liberal credentials,...
  • User AvatarPatrick 21st Oct - 11:53pm
    Till otherwise proven with appropriate references, I'm willing to give Dr Phillip Lee the benefit of the doubt. And if someone will issue references that...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Oct - 10:25pm
    Adding to Expats comment, in his latest twitter comment (and in a letter to The Times) two days ago, Dr Lee stated, Dr Phillip Lee...
  • User Avatarexpats 21st Oct - 9:54pm
    George Potter, I have no brief for Dr. Lee but everything I've read shows him IN FAVOUR of rehabilitation for prisoners rather than 'hard labour'......