Tag Archives: william gladstone

Something for the weekend: the great and glorious Lib Dem game of “what if?”

At the Glasgow conference in October 2014, there was something of an organisational snafu surrounding the BOTYs (Liberal Democrat Voice Blogs of the Year) awards ceremony. At the start of the session, the actual awards themselves, were not in the conference room where they needed to be. They were in a room upstairs in the hotel. The snag was that the room in question was locked. And the only person who we knew had a key was inside the room sleeping the sleep of the righteous – no doubt smilingly cuddling up to all our shiny BOTYs.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must stay true to our traditions post 2015

The period between now and the next general election in 2015 will be crucial in deciding the immediate future of the Liberal Democrats-but the post general election period will have a much longer term significance. I have long been one of those Liberal Democrats who believe that the word ’Liberal’ has been a little to silent in the party name – as policies around goldfish at fairs and ever increasing public spending without corresponding accountability have cast the party a long way from the roots developed by Beveridge, Keynes and Gladstone.

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Book review: William Gladstone – New Studies & Perspectives

Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and William Ewart Gladstone, giants of the nineteenth century, were all born in 1809 yet as Frank M Turner argues in this collection of essays Darwin and Lincoln are much better remembered today. I am sure this is true even for Liberal Democrats. In the final essay, Eugenio Biagini reflects on a 1992 Economist front cover describing Gladstone as ‘A prophet of the Left’. Gladstone’s legacy has been appropriated by Thatcherites who over simplify the Victorian Liberal view of the roles of government and private enterprise. …

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Opinion: Clegg should look to Gladstone and Grimond, not John Lewis

Nick Clegg’s Mansion House speech on “a more responsible capitalism” gathered publicity, particularly for his widely-reported call for employees to be given the right to ask for shares in the company they work for. I am still puzzling over how people can be given a right they already have. Anyone can ask for shares at present, of course, but with no guarantee of an answer.

It would be meant something if Nick had called for employees to have the right to be given shares in their companies when they asked.   It would have meant even more if he could have …

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Nick Clegg’s speech to LibDem Conference

During Liberal Democrat conference someone watching it from home texted me: “I now know what the Lib Dems are against – bankers, top rate taxpayers, tax cheats generally, overpaid directors and energy companies But, with the single exception of gay marriage, I’ve got no idea what the Lib Dems are for.”

Some will – rightly – quibble over the ‘against’ list in that but the essential point is a fair one. Liberal Democrat conference has been a lot about what won’t happen or isn’t the case: the coalition isn’t going to end early, the Liberal Democrats are not the same as …

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Office of Tax Simplification quotes Star Trek and recommends ending relief for a tax rule that no longer exists

At the time the Conservatives announced their plans for an Office of Tax Simplification it looked to me like a good exception to the general policy of cutting quangoes. Its major report into tax reliefs looks to have justified that belief – because the Office of Tax Simplification has discovered that far more tax reliefs exist than it was expecting.

Yup, you read that right – that tax system is so complicated it turned out to be even more complicated than people who already thought it was complicated expected. Or in its language:

We found 1,042 reliefs,allowances and exemptions; far more than any of our initial estimates.

The OTS’s report also has the distinction of starting its foreword with a quote from Star Trek, even if by Chapter 1 it is back on to more familiar tax quotation grounds with William Gladstone.

The big stories from the review are:

During the review, a number of key themes have emerged:

  • Merging income tax and NIC – this is a long term project of structural reform thatwould deliver major simplification;
  • Employee benefits and expenses – The longer term aim would be to align the treatment of employee benefits, with shorter term aims of simplifying many minorbenefits with a de minimis limit of £100/£500, or amending the current £8,500threshold;
  • Inheritance tax and trusts – the reliefs for inheritance tax are integral to the policyand we consider that a more appropriate approach would be to review the tax as a whole;
  • Capital gains tax, particularly as applicable to companies –the capital gains systems for individuals and companies have drifted apart, with gains by individuals taxed at a lower rate than income to reflect inflation, whereas companies are still required to calculate indexation. Our aim would be to realign the treatments and simplify the tax, but as there are changes in relation to corporate capital gains expected in Finance Bill 2011, this is clearly a longer term project; and
  • Environmental taxes –Both landfill tax and aggregates levy should be reviewed, as both regimes contain basic charging provisions with numerous exemptions and it may be more appropriate to define what is caught rather than what is excluded.

In amongst the details are some great examples of just how much parts of the tax system is in need of simplification, such as the continuing tax break on the first 15pence (yes, pence) of the value of a luncheon voucher given by an employer to staff. As the review says,

The value of this relief has eroded since its introduction in 1946 and is outweighed by the time and cost in providing it.

My favourite, however, is the discovery that there is still a tax relief on the books for a tax rule that no longer exists:

Certain specified and certified instruments were exempt from £5 fixed stamp duty. As the fixed rate of duty was abolished in 2008, the policy rationale is no longer relevant and the relief  has no current application.

Yorkshire drinkers of obscure beer may wish to check section 4.37.

Office of Tax Simplication – Review of Tax Reliefs

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Which Way’s Up? The long-term future of the coalition

The rapid appearance since the formation of the Coalition of Conservative MP Nick Boles’s book Which Way’s Up? is a tribute to the speed with which Biteback turns round books – recognising that the previous slothful pace of much political publishing meant books were no longer able to capture the political weather. Boles’s book, by contrast, certainly does that and attracted immediate headlines about his support for a two-term coalition and for an electoral pact.

The heart of the book, however, is about policy rather than political tactics. Boles himself has long been a Conservative moderniser – “a Cameroon before …

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 13 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 1 January 2010

Happy New (General Election) Year!

On this day in 1973, the UK joined the European Community, along with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland. On January 1, 2002, Euro coins and banknotes became legal tender in twelve of the European Union’s member states.

It’s a quarter of a century since Britain’s first mobile phone call was made. In a seemingly random intersection of the Fates, comedian Ernie Wise was calling from St Katherine’s Dock to a room above a Newbury curry house – the then office of a little company called Vodafone.

2 Interesting Stories

Is a Labour-Tory coalition unthinkable? Only until you think about it
Martin Kettle muses in the Guardian on a hung Parliament:

It seems innocent to assume that either Labour or the Tories would automatically turn first to the Liberal Democrats in those circumstances – or that the Lib Dems would necessarily deliver. The big parties could calculate that they would be better off in a marriage of convenience with a historic enemy they respected, from which they could withdraw with dignity when the moment was right, rather than to embark on a more permanent entanglement with a Lib Dem party which at bottom they each despise.

The more one looks at the evolutionary dynamics of British politics, the more serious the grand coalition option may one day become. Is a Labour-Conservative deal really unthinkable? Only until you start thinking about it.

At least the next government won’t be decided on the toss of a coin… or will it?

Coin tossing through the ages

The Telegraph has an interesting history, including this:

Posted in Daily View and Europe / International | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 29 December 2009

May I be the first to wish you, “Happy That Bit Between Christmas and New Year.”

Whether you’re at work, at home, working from home, or none of the above, here’s your Daily View for Tuesday:

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of William Ewart Gladstone, Liberal statesman and four-times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. (By the way, remember to nominate your Liberal Voice of 2009 here.)

It’s also 34 years since the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into force, legislation which now faces overdue modernisation and streamlining by the Equality Bill.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that caught my eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • Cameron’s potted plants underline the difference. Peter Black’s post (a late contender for my favourite blog post title of 2009) features a video of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory candidate for North East Somerset, “a key Conservative candidate who reflects the views of many in his party that he is a member of the ruling class with a God-given right to be in Government and that as far as he is concerned the rest of us are just potted plants.”
  • Is photography the new crime? Andrew Reeves takes a photo of the police taking a photo of the protesters.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Fury as China executes British drug smuggler

China was this morning condemned for its human rights record after a British man who, his supporters say, had mental health problems, was executed for smuggling drugs.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, was shot dead by a firing squad at 10.30am local time (2.30am British time) after frantic last-minute pleas for clemency by the Foreign Office failed.

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What the papers say…

Civil  servants are as bad as bankers … The Telegraph trumpets Gladstone’s anniversary … Tories support Labour’s school Sats Tests … Another dodgy Tory donor exposed … Labour split on voting reform … Lords skim expenses cream … BBC to make film on Thorpe tragedy … what Chris Huhne thinks of Prince Charles … Unions sit on money for Labour … look at who says Hauge is Vauge …and the only thing the final polls of the year can agree upon is that Liberal Democrat support is holding up

Now Civil Servants join bankers in ludicrous bonuses – Daily Mail,, 24.12.09

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Gladstone vs Disraeli: BBC4 broadcast on Tuesday

BBC4 is showing a new film, Gladstone & Disraeli: Clash of the Titans, on Tuesday, 3rd March, 8pm. According to the blurb it is:

A 90 minute-long film, which unfolds the extraordinary story of the bitter personal feud that developed between two of 19th Century Britain’s greatest politicians, William Gladstone (1809 – 1898) and Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881). The programme is presented by Huw Edwards – who knows a thing or two about Westminster intrigue. Assisting Huw in his telling of this fascinating tale are a number of equally well-qualified commentators, including the veteran Labour politician Lord Hattersley, Disraeli’s most

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Thankfully, William Gladstone wasn’t right about everything

“This will lead to the abolition of Christmas” – William Gladstone on the 1831 Great Reform Bill. It became an act, our electoral system became rather more democratic and Christmas survived.

Thank you from everyone on the team for all the reading, commenting and contributing over the last year and have a great Christmas. 

If you find yourself at a loose end between the turkey and the gift unwrapping, you can always take five to vote in our LDV 2008 awards.

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JS Mill voted ‘Greatest Liberal’

John Stuart Mill has, perhaps inevitably, been acclaimed the ‘greatest British liberal of all time’, according to a poll conducted by the Liberal Democrat History Group. (Hat-tip: Jonathan Calder via Paul Walter).

Duncan Brack, editor of the Journal of Liberal History, wrote about the contest last week on Lib Dem Voice, including brief profiles of the four short-listed candidates, who also included Gladstone, Keynes and Lloyd George. (Only the deceased were eligible.)

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

In search of the Great Liberals

William Ewart Gladstone, David Lloyd George, John Maynard Keynes, John Stuart Mill – who is the greatest Liberal of all time? All Lib Dems coming to the autumn party conference will be able to cast a vote.

The poll for the greatest British Liberal in history is being run by the Liberal Democrat History Group. In the first stage, in July, readers of the Journal of Liberal History voted between 15 potential candidates (plus an eclectic collection of write-ins).

We chose not to define what we meant by ‘great’ – leaving that up to our voters – but our criteria for candidates were that they must have been active in the Liberal Democrats, or its predecessors, or influential on Liberal thinking; they must have been British, or active in Britain; and they must be dead.

The final four to emerge were:

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Eight reasons for Gordon Brown to be worried

Ipsos MORI has recently published a couple of books about Britain after Blair’s ten years. One of them recounts what happened to long-serving Prime Ministers’ previous successors:

Before Tony Blair, only seven men and one woman have previously held office as British Prime Minister for ten years or more (Robert Walpole, Henry Pelham, Lord North, William Pitt the Younger, the Earl of Liverpool, William Gladstone, the Marquess of Salisbury and Margaret Thatcher); they include some of our history’s most distinguished leaders. The worry for Gordon Brown is that their successors have been less conspicuously successful.

John Major’s premiership is a recent

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Who was the greatest British Liberal?

Readers of Lib Dem News will have had their attention drawn by Lord Tom McNally to a poll asking: who is the Greatest British Liberal?

(The question is being posed by The Journal of Liberal History, and voting is open only to members – you can join here.)

Here’s the short-list of 15 drawn up by the Liberal History Group’s executive committee:

Asquith, Herbert Henry
Beveridge, William
Bonham Carter, Violet
Campbell-Bannerman, Henry
Cobden, Richard
Fawcett, Millicent Garrett
Fox, Charles James
Gladstone, William Ewart
Grimond, Jo
Jenkins, Roy
Keynes, John Maynard
Locke, John
Lloyd George, David
Mill, John Stuart

Posted in News | 41 Comments
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