The Beveridge Group announces its relaunch

The Liberal Democrat Voice team have received a press release from John Pugh MP, which may be of interest to those in the Party keen to engage in debate on policy and philosophy.

With an eye to the new parliamentary year and forthcoming legislation, the Beveridge Group has reformed and a new updated website is already up and running. The initiative follows widespread concern inside and outside parliament as to where Coalition policy on public services may be going.

We want to prompt a proper debate as to where the Liberal Democrats stand and importantly what we will stand for as well as engage those many members and supporters active in improving our public services and perhaps a little flummoxed by some of the initiatives coming out of government – particularly from the Tory ministers with a clear ideological axe to grind. The response from parliamentary colleagues has been very positive but the idea is to reach out beyond parliament and to those working in the public services whom the coalition may unintentionally have alienated. The message is ‘pitch in’.

The group was originally set up by John Barrett, Paul Holmes, Alistair Carmichael and John Pugh was set up at the time of the Huhne Commission and the party’s last review of its policy and exists according to Alistair, “to promote debate on the subject of public service provision within the Liberal Democrats. The Group seeks to advance thinking which will better define the public service ethos and its place in party policy. It seeks to re-establish the standing of people working in public services and to promote recognition of the contribution which they make to the wider community.

The Group approaches public service provision from the basic premise that public services must be accountable and responsive to community needs and wishes. They are therefore best provided by democratically elected bodies and as a consequence of that are most likely to be paid for out of general taxation which should wherever possible be progressive and transparent.”

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15 Comments

  • Malcolm Todd 10th Jan '12 - 12:52pm

    @Dave — no, not necessarily. They can be paid for by fees, insurance, or hypothecated taxes. For example, NHS prescriptions don’t cease to be a public service just because some of us have to pay a charge; likewise “meals on wheels” services and personal care provided by local authorities; or indeed getting a passport or driving licence.

  • Simon Titley 10th Jan '12 - 1:25pm

    I am mystified why this is necessary. We already have the Social Liberal Forum to represent the social liberal mainstream of the party. It is woefully underfunded compared with the millions that Paul Marshall has been pouring into the neoliberal/Orange Book cause.

    Next, I hear that Richard Grayson will be launching a ‘Left Liberal’ grouping at the party’s spring conference in March. And now the Beveridge Group is being brought back from the dead.

    Any expression of enthusiasm for social liberalism is welcome but I cannot see the advantage of three groups as opposed to one. This just looks like the People’s Front of Judea – or is that the Judean People’s Front?

  • Robin McGhee 11th Jan '12 - 8:33am

    It is indeed ironic that a group promoting nationalised public services takes its name from a man who wasn’t that bothered about them being under conventional state control.

    As for the point about JPF/PFJ: yep. But the right is broken up in similar ways. There is no ‘Orange Book’ group comparable to this, Liberal Vision has been quiet as far as I can tell, and there is no mass movement from the membership advocating a right-wing organisation. All that really matters is what those in power think, and that isn’t determined by factions. It determines what those factions are though, so I think it is fair to describe this as an example of the left taking ground over the last year.

  • Happy to see more debate in the party. Always welcome. I especially look forward to a close analysis of the Beveridge’s model of public services, and the Liberal advocated models by thinkers like Grimond since.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Jul '17 - 6:39pm

    On BBC Radio 4 Any Questions? on 22/7/2017 journalist and historian Peter Hennessey
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hennessy pointed out how many defence reviews we have had, etcetera, but the most recent comprehensive review of social policy is from 1942, the Beveridge report, produced for the wartime coalition government under PM Winston Churchill and deputy PM Clement Attlee. A particular mix of talents, training and experience would be needed, but we should be reluctant to lose our new leader. Such a report would be the equivalent of a Royal Commission. We should fear “Treasury thinking” from Mr. Gauke and “Venezuelian socialism” from Mr. Corbyn.
    Although another such report is overdue, this is a particularly difficult time to produce one. The decision of the 2016 referendum caused an immediate fall in the value of the pound sterling, which caused the UK to be downgraded from the fifth largest economy in the world to sixth, behind India. The future is full of uncertainty. We can currently host inward investment from all over the world from companies whose top management speaks English and who wish to export to 27 other neighbouring countries under a single set of rules. Although there has not yet been a parliamentary motion of confidence, or no confidence, in the Ministers doing the negotiations, they are likely to be subject to repeated challenge with consequent uncertainty for businesses large and small and for their employees and pensioners. When UK unemployment reached 1,000,000 under the Heath government of 1970-1974 it was considered a matter of national shame. It is now over 1,500,000, but there is less shame among government ministers and their MP supporters.
    Creating a new Beveridge report would involve a lot of work, those involved would need credible assurances of a fair hearing.

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