William Wallace writes…What should the Liberal Democrats be saying to the “left behind?”

What should the Liberal Democrats be saying to the ‘Left Behind’?  We’ve claimed a strong position as the voice of the 48%; but there are many among the 52% who are not illiberal at heart, and others who voted ‘Sod off!’ in the Referendum to London as much as to Brussels in their disillusion with politics and the distant elite.  People who live on partly-sold off Council estates, or in places built to house workers in factories that closed 30 to 40 years ago, where local services have been steadily cut back and jobs are hard to get to, low paid and insecure, have some justifiable reasons to feel resentful .

Theresa May has spoken about the ‘left behind’ at the Davos World Economic Forum, but said little about what an’ active state’ (yes, she has used that term) should do to help them. Donald Trump in his inauguration speech promised ‘the forgotten people’ from globalisation that they will now be remembered, but didn’t say what he would do to help them beyond putting up barriers to imports.  The right-wing media in Britain have portrayed their problems as mostly down to fecklessness and immigrants – taking their jobs and the social housing they want to claim, weighing down the NHS.  Labour is wavering over whether to give in to that narrative, or address more underlying problems.

But what do we want to say, consistent with our values, and without pandering to the ‘blame the East Europeans’ narrative?  Liberal Democrat peers have set up a working group to address this, to feed into party campaigning in ‘left behind’ areas.  The London-based media portrays the political choices for such voters as between Labour and UKIP (having forgotten the Lib Dem record in cities like Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull and elsewhere).  We know that Labour has already lost their trust, and that local campaigning has created new pockets of Liberal Democrat support, with encouraging local by-election results in recent months. Our group includes peers with local government experience in northern cities and neglected rural areas; and we are drawing on a number of reports on the social and economic conditions of England’s pockets of depression and deprivation.

We will be holding a consultation session at the Spring conference in York, on the Friday evening from 2015; do come and join us and contribute to our work. We’re struck by how far the disruptive impact of industrial decline on what were cohesive working class communities is blamed by many who live there on the influx of immigrants, when shortage of social housing, poor-quality education and inadequate training for skills which qualify for better jobs are more direct causes. So we are looking for supporting evidence from different areas about what is happening in terms of social housing, local training skills, ease (or difficulty) of travelling to work in other places when buses have been privatised, and the impact of cuts on local services, from Sure Start to policing and FE colleges.

We invite contributions to the parallel discussion on the Members’ Forum, to offer examples and evidence – and we look forward to conversations at the conference in York.   What has been the impact of social housing being sold off, through subsequent transactions, to private landlords?  Are schools in these areas suffering from difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers, and what should we do about that?  How damaging to such communities are the continuing cuts in local authority spending?   And what positive examples can you offer of local initiatives that are overcoming some of the obstacles they face?

Do companies in your area recruit workers direct from Eastern Europe?  If so, what is their justification for doing so?  Building companies say that they cannot find skilled workers in the UK, trucking companies that they cannot find HGV drivers: but are there enough openings in local training schemes to supply local skilled workers, and are local companies prepared to train their own?  Is your local LEP helping to pull together training initiatives and economic regeneration, or has it so far achieved little?  Above all, what do you think should be priorities in turning around communities that have lost faith in government and lost hope in economic recovery?  Do contribute to the Members’ Forum, and come and join us to talk further in York.

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

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43 Comments

  • Cheap training, by that I mean if you train to be a doctor, a dentist, a bus driver, a nurse, an electrician you can and you don’t end up deep in debt by doing it.

  • Excellent idea, shall come if I can. Half of my ward certainly suffers from many of the problems mentioned above.

  • Sorry this attitude about Free movement ie let’s bend over backwards to carry on with our sectarian faith about it is not going to work. I’ve worked in a place where the company had not only used and abused EU citizens also had a deal with the Home Office to get in as many people from outside the EU – not to mention the use and abuse of BME British citizens.

    It’s pretty obvious (however uncomfortable for Lib Dems) that the more demand there is for jobs the worse the situation is for those at the sharp end in terms of terms and conditions, security of employment, working life culture and pay.

    The new normal is going to be PLANNED migration policy taking into account a British first system to drive down unemployment to 2% on a sector and regional basis. Workers rights will need to be beefed up. If the Lib Dems want to have free movement of Labour after Brexit they can campaign for it!

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Jan '17 - 11:23am

    Peston-on-Sunday’s use of the word “Panglossian” without explanation, at the end of the programme, was interesting, but elite. Oxfor, Chambers, Slang and BBC dictionaries did not have the word.
    “Dr. Pangloss was the pedantic old tutor in Voltaire’s satirical novel Candide. Pangloss was an incurable, albeit misguided, optimist who claimed that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” So persistent was he in his optimism that he kept it even after witnessing and experiencing great cruelty and suffering. The name “Pangloss” comes from Greek pan, meaning “all,” and glossa, meaning “tongue,” suggesting glibness and talkativeness.”
    Too long for a tweet.

  • WW, Perhaps you should start with our leadership? Demanding a re-run of the referendum in every speech, because those who voted out (your ‘left behinders’) didn’t understand what they voted for, doesn’t build bridges…

  • This is a big and complex one, but it is of course right to acknowledge that many of the 52% voted Brexit because they were fed up with problems that good domestic policies could have fixed. Instead of blaming them, we need to work hard on how to address those concerns.
    Even if it is widely accept that the nation as a whole benefits from immigration the pressures are often felt locally, so it is right that national support and investment is provided to areas with higher levels of recent immigration to help them to adjust.
    A properly enforced, suitable minimum wage should help to alleviate some of the concerns about immigrants driving prices down, but that all assumes that there isn’t an attempt to get around the employment rights of immigrant workers.

    Something I heard a lot of from people who insisted they liked a lot about the EU was that they didn’t like the idea of EU citizens, coming here with specifically to get free treatment on the NHS, and a big house for their large family, while also sending child support to their other family in Romania – all within a fortnight of arriving. I’m not convinced that happened anything like as much as some people thought, but the idea gained traction and would be sore point if you had to wait longer than desired for an operation.

    What frustrates me on this is that Cameron did get a deal that would make that sort of thing less likely, but it wasn’t fully implemented before the referendum, so it was wrong to write it off as the ideological Brexiteers did. But this is a fear that is probably widespread across the more jittery aspects of Western European countries, so I do wonder if we might be able to negotiate harder on that, but maintain sufficient aspects of free movement to get access to the free market.
    Building and maintaining the right skills base is essential, and one that is able to react to how people do business these days. Many haulage firms will maintain a solid base of their own staff, but if they get a new one year contract requiring an extra 20 drivers starting next month, is it viable to train them all up in house? Is it often easier to get on the phone to an agency to get the staff in one go, so any intervention needs to consider that. Could an enterprise agency work at a recruitment agency in these circumstances, with their finders-fees being used to contribute to training locals?

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Jan '17 - 1:28pm

    Such as exercise is pointless if it comes up with the usual answers. It can’t just say “economic intervention” is the key to reaching the “left-behind” voters. Working class voters want a party who shares their values. On its own economic intervention isn’t enough and sometimes makes things worse when it comes to the self-employed with more tax and regulation.

    Regards

  • Neil Sandison 22nd Jan '17 - 1:45pm

    As someone who could be described as a blue collar Liberal Democrat brought up in the school of hard knocks .The last thing we as a social group need is patronising left behind nonsense .We were not so much left behind we were never invited in the first place.We were demonised by the tories because we had to top up our income with state benefits because wages didnt meet real cost of living expenses. Anger came as every petty little cut in assistance was withdrawn making day to day living less tolerable .We couldnt lash out at those hiding away behind the portculus of Westminster so the next and most convinient people to blame were the migrants and the EU.The referendum wasnt about Europe it was about revenge on chattering middle classes who thought they knew what was good for us.So my first request is start treating people with dignity ,Show them be they a cleaner ,road sweeper cook or warehouse person they are of value and give everyone a real chance to up-skill and be recognised as making a contribution to the greater good,

  • James
    Protectionism will not work. Companies will move abroad taking the jobs with them.
    (remember a lot of jobs have been lost because of automation)
    Neil
    40 years ago I worked in a factory.( Today the products are made in a more automated factory in Holland.) Reskill is the word. With the money I made I did courses and became more qualified.

    The overall question is complex and requires a raft of measures, some short term some long term.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan '17 - 2:41pm

    Fiona

    You regularly make insightull points, no change here, very reflective and worthwhile.

    Eddie

    Keep at it !

    Would someone please explain the presumption that so many of the so called 52% are left behind, when it includes a number of very middle class people in their later years , with mortgages fully paid, comfortably off in areas with hardly any immigrants, and why the 48 % are considered an elite when it includes a large number of students from working class or average backgrounds who shall start there careers with much in the way of debts , and little prospect of ever getting to become homeowners !?!

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Jan '17 - 3:10pm

    @ Mark Wright
    “In chasing our gleaming European vision we took our eye off the ball…”

    I would object to the “we”. The Tories and Labour have, except for the coalition years, always had power. These problems have a long history.
    My personal view of the “European vision” is quite pragmatic. I woud argue that the Tories and Tony Blair have ideological views on the “European vision”.

  • “So why aren’t British workers doing these jobs?”
    Because many young British are aspirational and want professional jobs.

  • I agree that we need to make regeneration of the low productivity areas of the UK a priority. We need to show how being part of the EU is beneficial to our strategy of increasing liberty across the full demographic spectrum of the UK.

    I think Liberal political strategy needs to move away from identity politics and moralism and rediscover its utilitarian appeal. Too many people think that we base our political position and policy on idealism.

    I also think we need to stop believing that everything is our fault. I don’t think legitimate concerns about immigration were ever treated as racist, that is a myth put out by the right.

    I also agree with @Nick Sandison that we need to treat people with more dignity and respect. There is a tendency to talk about working class people and what we must do for them without actually talking to them or asking them what they want. When we do listen we sometimes misinterpret them.

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Jan '17 - 3:47pm

    errata: The last all Liberal government was over a century ago and ‘woud argue’ should read ‘would argue’. I make a lot of typing errors.

  • Arnold Kiel 22nd Jan '17 - 4:05pm

    Neil Sandison put it very well: let us treat those (left) behind with dignity by being honest to them. Your question gives me a chance to disentangle many unrelated things often mixed together.

    Those behind (nobody left them) are simply unproductive for two reasons: their skills are low and their work is not matched with capital.

    The EU has nothing to do with this; to the contrary: the single market has dampened (but not stopped) deindustralization.

    When speaking of free movement in this context, we mean cheap unskilled people; even if there were displacement of job-seeking Britons (largely disproven), the absence of EU immigration would put them into minimum-wage low-skill low-productivity service jobs. Hardy an answer to the problem posed.

    Let me repeat to be clear: exiting the EU single market and stopping immigration would not make any unproductive Briton better off, because it would neither enhance his skills not the UK’s capital stock (quite to the contrary).

    Now to the real problem: Britain’s competitiveness. It can be improved in three ways:, earn less per hour, improve skills, deploy more capital.

    Those behind are already doing the first and have little chance to do the second. Private capital has already voted on rural Britain with its feet, and public capital (which will get even scarcer after Brexit) will be mostly wasted. Notice that the US, the world’s most productive economy, has horrible public infrastructure.

    Britain must build on its competitive strengths in high-skill services and in manufacturing as part of European and global supply chains. Trading with distant low-cost continents as a substitute for integration into our high-cost, high-skill, high-standard Europe is a crazy phantasy. Trump’s experiment to lock out competitive imports to prop-up inefficient production at home will fail and leave even more behind.

    So the answer to the question of those “left” behind asked by William Wallace’s is this: if you are young enough, educate yourself and go to the city, ideally London. If you are too old to retrain, vote for who protects Britain’s economy so that cuts to your benefits and public services can be minimized. This answer might not be satisfactory, but it is honest. Your answer Brexit was the worst you could have given.

  • I try to find patterns. You have to be ruthless with your own thiunking, to avoid seeing patterns where there are none, but sometimes you stumble upon ‘fractals’, and analogy from one level which give possible insight to another level.

    One of them is the concept of ‘flyover states’ in the USA.
    The message is that Washington DC matters,.. and New York matters, but the stuff in-between doesn’t matter. Similarly, the UK pattern is clear,..London matters,… Edinburgh matters, and the stuff in-between doesn’t matter.

    The resulting angry message from these patterns,.. is that 25+ years of being ‘in the rusting middle’ and ignored,.. will simply NOT be ignored any longer.

    Part of understanding the new Zeitgeist, is that the electorate [understandably!], is no longer convinced by promises, and political warm words, to,… * look into the issue *. The era of hoping that political subterfuge, spin and ‘frothy’ words will make all this go away,.. is long gone.
    If any political party is truly sincere about beginning to address this left-behind issue here in the UK, then at a very bare minimum, the Barnett Formula must be scrapped.

    The Barnett Formula is a totem of that flawed mindset, which will be tolerated no more. That mindset,.. that folk in the middle, between Edinburgh and London matter less, and are of a lesser value. That mindset must change and quickly, and scrapping the Barnett formula, is a * must do * policy, to begin that change of mindset, and show real sincerity in beginning the task of tackling the left-behinf issue.

    As an aside :

    If you want to spot another pattern, then look for melting swowflakes. There are a lot of snowflakes which are due to thaw in the months ahead, and if you are of the liberal snowflake mentality, of the kind that has infiltrated society in the last decade or so, then the next few years are going to be an horrendous and painful period for you. Try not to take it personally,.. in truth, we’re all in the ‘jaws’ of events which we should have paid far more attention to, long ago.?

  • Two things: I commented on LDV a week before the Referendum that we had lost – the reason, “It’s immigration, stupid”. The people I had been talking to who led me to this conclusion were employed in reasonable jobs, or retired on reasonable pensions, so not the “left behind” as they have subsequently been designated (although I’m sure that there is a group or groups that that description fits). Nor were they being racist: it was the idea that EU membership meant that there was no prospect of limiting or controlling the number of people from the EU who might want to come and live here that concerned them.
    Secondly, and I have said this before on LDV, Liberals are in favour of Free Trade but against concentration of power. We have focussed exclusively on the Free Trade aspect of the EU without recognising the ways that globalisation have gradually concentrated money and power in the hands of fewer and fewer companies and individuals. Last time I raised this someone responded with our policy of putting workers on company boards: such a good idea that Theresa May adopted it (that’s not being sarcastic, by the way), although she hasn’t done anything to make it happen, but it is hardly going to shake oligopoly capitalism to its foundations or institute a necessary redistribution of wealth.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan '17 - 5:03pm

    Mark

    Excellent comments, that, like my own above on a different aspect, show that it is not about who was represented in percentages of votes in one referendum, but issues related to the very development of opportunity in a meritocracy , which we are not anymore !

    I do feel the recent contribution of Sir Vince shook things up a bit, but , whatever you say or I, too many do not say that there is nothing wrong with debate , we are friends to our fellow human beings , without prejudice, or , to take up the theme of another thread, as the late great Roy Jenkins would say, without rancour !

  • Mark Blackburn 22nd Jan '17 - 5:34pm

    Unfortunately, the Coalition government ‘left behind’ many because of its adoption of an austerity budget and pursuit of an ‘unbalanced’ economic recovery. Our party suffered because our leadership was implicit in this approach. There can be no return for our party to centre right laissez faire economic approach (which even then did not have grassroots backing); Keynesian economics must be at the heart of our economic policy.

  • Laurence Cox 22nd Jan '17 - 5:47pm

    I believe that we have been too cautious in avoiding the elephant in the room:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37542494

    Essentially, during the period from 1988 (roughly the end of communism in Europe) to 2008 (the crash), we had two decades of what was called a NICE (non-inflationary, consistently expanding) economy. Indeed as the graph in the BBC article shows, most of the world did pretty well during this period. The two areas that did not do well were the very poorest in the world and those around the 70-90th percentiles, who are mainly the poorest in Western economies.

    Now we still have our commitment to 0.7% GDP for aid, and I think that is all we can do for the very poorest in the world; what we can do is to reduce inequality in our own country through more progressive taxation. Trump is right in one sense: for decades we have been living on the benefits of infrastructure built by our predecessors without doing much to improve it; apart from HS1 the railway system in this country would have been familiar to the Victorians, except for electricity and diesel replacing steam for motive power. We do need to invest in infrastructure and that investment will bring new jobs. We also need to invest in training to provide the skilled workers for those jobs, as others have commented.

    Our 1p on income tax for education received a favourable response because the public could see that we had a specific target; we were not just calling for tax and spend with no focus. I think we can do the same by advocating ‘fair tax’: £1 after tax is worth exactly the same to you whether you earn it by working, whether you receive it as interest or dividends, or whether it is a capital gain. By increasing rates for the latter two (which would primarily hit the richest in society) to bring them into line with earned income, we could gain the additional revenue for infrastructure and training.

  • Simon McGrath 22nd Jan '17 - 7:24pm

    @Mark Blackburn
    “Keynesian economics must be at the heart of our economic policy.”
    The Coalition borrowed £500bn -what on earth is that if not a Keynsian policy

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Jan '17 - 7:31pm

    What did they do with all that money?

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Jan '17 - 7:42pm

    It’s not fair to tax dividends and capital gains at the same rate as income because of corportion tax (CT). People who have their own companies pay both if they want to withdraw money from a company. CT is levied annually and the others on withdrawal of dividends or the crystallisation of a gain. In fact tax on company profits is now greater than 50% for the top earners because dividend reliefs have been cut.

  • I think we need to cut welfare spending if we are going to find serious money for investment in infrastructure. It’s all very well saying we will put 1% on tax for this and that, but people usually agree in principle then vote against it when given the choice.

  • Andrew McCaig 22nd Jan '17 - 9:03pm

    Andrew T
    Can you tell us what “welfare spending” you want to cut? Disability benefits again?

    I would be in favour of cutting the huge amount of welfare spending going into the pockets of private landlords charging outrageous rents by building adequate amounts of social housing, and not continuing to sell it off cheap to fall into the hands (eventually) of those same private landlords..

  • paul holmes 22nd Jan '17 - 9:15pm

    @Andrew T. When the Lib Dems were campaigning for specific tax increases for specific purposes in the 1997/2001/2005 General Elections we successively won our 3 highest numbers of MP’s since the 1920’s culminating in 62 in 2005.

  • @Andrew McCaig – Mostly pensions. I’m unsure on social housing as a good idea, the cost of housing is more a specific problem in London and the south east. My issue is that too much of government expenditure is simply transferring money between people rather than being invested in areas that provide positive economic multipliers. I don’t think disability benefits are too high although there is theory to suggest many people could be working in a better economic environment.

    @paul holmes – Fair enough, I did suggest in one of the NHS topics that we should raise taxes slightly to pay for healthcare (as well as lowering pension spend). I’m just cautious we don’t fall into the left-wing trap of promising to pay for everything by taxing “the rich”.

  • May I ask a serious question here.

    The Lib Dem’s are supposedly internationalist.

    A global vision presumably means the ability to negotiate free trade deals without restriction – I assume the liberal view is that this is desirable.
    So, why are ‘we’ so keen on supporting a ‘protectionist’ organisation such as the EU?
    I would have thought this is against our internationalist and our liberal values?

    I also do not understand this obsession with the free moment of people in order to be allowed access to the ‘single market. Why does this have to be the case?
    Surely a single market (if that’s what the EU see’s as being desirable), can easily be set up without free moment?

    If we accept this , then it therefore surely follows that the real reason for the insistence of free moment is that the EU sees itself as a ‘Single Nation State’.

    The British people (including many Remainers) do not want to be part of an EU state!!

    This I suspect answers Lorenzo’s very perceptive (as always) point above.
    Many well educated people have worked this out and voted accordingly.
    The obsession with the single currency offers another big clue as to the direction of movement.

    Drum roll —— how many any Liberals see such a protectionist organisation as simply not in tune with their values?

  • PS: before I’m accused of elitism myself – many citizens of all education levels have intuitively (i suspect) worked this out.
    being fortunate enough to receive a high level of education is not indicative of intelligence – far from it 🙂

  • J Dunn
    As an aside, there will be no spring now we are in the age of @imPOTUS.

    Mike S
    The EU is internationalist. It has offices in countries outside of Europe and it makes trade deals with them. Plenty of European products available throughout the world.

  • @ J Dunn, you’ve entirely missed the point of the Barnett Formula.

    It was always intended to support services in low population areas, recognising the additional costs that come from the greater physical distances and geographical areas involved. It never was for the people of Edinburgh, and the UK (currently) extends for hundreds of miles beyond Edinburgh.

    Now, you may have a point that the people of rural Yorkshire deserve an equivalent, and of course there are concerns other than the additional costs associated with low population areas, but then there are other schemes to regenerate, for example, the old mining towns. It is entirely reasonable to review all of these schemes, but it’s probably worth doing a bit of research into these schemes before you dismiss them as problematic for being the opposite of what they really are.

  • David Hopps 23rd Jan '17 - 8:34am

    The opening sentence is the most pressing question for the Lib Dems.
    On education, and particularly State education in poorer areas, a recognition of the undoubted growing skills shortages must be combined, if progress is to be made, with an improved teacher/pupil/parent relationship where there is a recognition that education is a two-way street. That gets into the thorny area of discipline and attitude, one in which. I suspect we are probably not at our most comfortable for fear of sounding too authoritarian. But individuals can only have the capacity to develop if they are presented with a general culture in which they have the potential to learn.

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Jan '17 - 9:30am

    Laurence Cox – I agree with a big part of what you say, but perhaps a small caveat to you (and others) on education and skills. You say, ‘We also need to invest in training to provide the skilled workers for those jobs, as others have commented.’

    That’s true to a point, but training and skills are nothing without entry level work. Certainly the college I used to work for had large numbers of people applying for trade skills courses. You can have wonderful skills training – if the work isn’t there they aren’t a lot of use! The picture is mixed and I think that sometimes the tendency of talkboards to fetishise, ‘skills,’ can miss nuance.

    Plasterers for example have high wages, high skills but the barriers to entry are high and costly. Some people I know took their skills to new build in Spain. For a few years that was great, but it dried up rapidly.

    The classic route for previous generations into the trades was new build. Very few did yellow-pages style work straight out of college. That sort of work needs things like a van, a box of expensive tools, an address book full of contacts, costly advertising and CPD (think solar panels) that isn’t cheap. All of that came from a long time in new-build work. We have had basically no new build in this country for a long time and that, not skills shortages as such, really whacked the trades. The lack of new build created a vicious circle. The Polish Plumber generally wasn’t at entry level, but he aggravated problems even if he didn’t create them. I understand car mechanics have seen similar issues where too many people are chasing too little work. Hence the occasional glut of people moving into teaching trade skills.

    As an aside here the day may yet come when we see HE style fees on FE courses. I dread to think what happens at that point.

    So by all means focus on skills, but remember that we need an economy that accommodates those skills. More generally we really need as a country to focus on the entry level – that’s the important bit. Whether that entry level is in trade skills or something else is secondary. And that focus I think needs to be first and foremost on UK people, not the whole of the EU.

  • The very term “The Left Behind” is highly patronising, sounding like the winners in the “global race” are looking down upon those who have not benefited as if they are losers who are in need of sympathy. Governments have accepted the “sink or swim” narrative of free-market social Darwinism as a matter of Fukuyaminan inevitability: History ended with the triumph of the Market – Just keep up in the race or get left behind.

    The global market is not a natural or supernatural force but a human institution and is shaped by human choices. We should use collective effort, nationally and internationally, to ensure that globalisation does not leave people excluded or impoverished. We should stop banging on about how globalisation is inevitable and an unequivocal “good thing”, because, firstly, it is not inevitable if we have the will to change, and secondly for many people, it has not brought the benefits that were promised.

  • Andrew
    Then how about the term ‘industrial decline’.

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Jan '17 - 2:25pm

    Returning to infrastructure investment, there is a good posting by Larry Summers today:

    https://www.socialeurope.eu/2017/01/case-proper-program-infrastructure-spending/

    I want to emphasise two of the points he makes:

    1) Infrastructure investment is often undervalued by conventional rate-of-return calculations because not all the benefits are captured by these. Specifically Summers is looking at changes in work patterns caused by new infrastructure; we might think of the effect of the Channel Tunnel on freight haulage (we might also ask why it has taken so long to do anything about Operation Stack) and Eurostar on short-haul flights to northwestern Europe. In this situation, connectivity is vital; it doesn’t make much sense that HS1 and HS2 are not connected, raising the question of whether HS2 as proposed is the wrong project – one characteristic of large infrastructure investments is the opportunity cost for other similar investments that have to be forgone.

    2) There is a particularly compelling case for maintenance investment. At local level we seek to get pot-holes filled even though it is difficult to calculate the damage caused to vehicles by them because it involves bringing together costs from different areas and, except for catastrophic failures, one cannot associate a particular pothole with a specific repair bill. We could apply the same principle in many more areas (Summers cites the example of a school with paint peeling off the walls).

  • Sue Sutherland 23rd Jan '17 - 9:28pm

    I’m so glad the Lords are taking this initiative because I believe that if we’re majoring on being the party of Europe we must also have a twin policy of helping those who have missed out on the opportunities that the EU brings, both through national policies and EU policies. Whilst it is welcome that members are being asked to contribute to this I’m wondering why we don’t go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask the people concerned how they are affected. There are two parliamentary by elections with, hopefully, large numbers of volunteers prepared to leaflet “left behind” areas so able to do the usual sort of ‘I’ll be back in 2 hours to pick this completed survey up’ questionnaire but one which deals solely with the issues the Lords group are raising. Obviously this needs a lot of preparation work followed by analysis of the results but might be far more beneficial to us than other surveys as long as it fits in with the local campaigns.
    With the UKIP leader standing in Stoke we have to stop the slide to the right before it becomes overwhelming. People need both help and hope and they need it now.

    Btw I agree about the use of the phrase “the left behinds” but couldn’t think of anything more descriptive. The remains of parliament after Cromwell took over were called the Rump, so for America Trump’s Rump has a nice ring to it, especially to a feminist who’s the same age as he is, but it’s much more difficult to have a sense of humour about what is happening in my own country. Especially as May is all keyed up to become his new best friend. I’m horrified that the two countries who stood firm against the Nazis appear to have been taken over by the far right.

  • Jonathan Brown 24th Jan '17 - 12:12am

    Glad to see this is happening.

    I think we can learn from the ‘Take Back Control’ slogan, of which I was very jealous. Were it not for its use by the ‘Leave’ campaign, it could have become our general election campaign slogan.

    One problem we face is being a predominantly southern and middle class party. Perhaps (I hope) that this is just my perception as a middle class southerner, but I think it’s important that this kind of exercise is lead by – and recruits – people from the parts of the country and the parts of society we’re talking about. So that it doesn’t become us talking about them, but us being a part of the conversation with them. It’s very useful that Tim is a northerner himself.

  • I think it very simple. You look at the opinion polls which consistently show that over 70% (in other words the vast majority of people) of the population want lower immigration and act accordingly, because there is virtually no support for the current high levels. Also, you have to be honest. It isn’t just about jobs or training. It is also about culture and identity and those things don’t go away just because you find them troubling.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPalehorse 23rd Nov - 8:57am
    Frankie and Johnny...., I was only teasing. I am 66 and have all my family here. If I were younger I would not hesitate to...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Nov - 8:50am
    " £65bn hit to tax receipts" This indicates that the economy is going to be more sluggish than expected. Therefore, the government needs to spend...
  • User AvatarHolly Matthies 23rd Nov - 8:46am
    It's not North American: Canadians have Thanksgiving in October.
  • User AvatarPalehorse 23rd Nov - 8:38am
    Are those "native peoples" the same ones the "settlers" then slaughtered and drove the survivors into reservations?
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 23rd Nov - 8:36am
    Sheila Gee, leave said: this black wall is white, an outright lie. Remain said: this light grey wall will turn black quickly, a forecast. The...
  • User Avatarexpats 23rd Nov - 8:23am
    Anyway.....The 'Ashes' are on...It'll make a change to read the headline, "England Facing Disaster", and realise that it's got nothing to do with 'Brexit'.