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Happy St. Andrew’s Day from Liberal Vision!

By Leslie Clark
November 30th, 2010 at 1:03 am | 3 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

the-saltireIt is incumbent upon me as the sole Scottish contributor to this blog to wish all readers a very happy St. Andrew’s Day! And with the recent rejection of some of the more absurd elements of the SNP Government’s minimum alcohol pricing proposals, I’m sure many of my fellow countrymen and women will particularly enjoy raising a glass or three to our patron saint this evening.

Whilst our national day may not have quite the same appeal as St. Patrick’s Day – thanks for that, Guinness – I’m sure many readers are well aware of the contribution made by Scots in shaping the modern world, from great intellectuals and writers, artists, industrialists and innovators. However, I humbly apologise for some of our more recent exports such as Gordon Brown and Susan Boyle…

For Liberal Vision sympathisers especially, we need no reminder of what Scotland has bequeathed to humanity: liberal thinkers such as David Hume and the father of modern economics, Adam Smith. Over the intervening centuries, their work still provides compelling arguments relevant to contemporary society, politics and economics; indeed, I only wish more politicians and policymakers would reacquaint themselves with those two towering figures of the Scottish Enlightenment.

So wherever you are on the globe, take a few minutes to reflect on how good the Scots really are!

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That tuition fees petition – first draft

By Andy Mayer
November 29th, 2010 at 1:46 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

The press seem to have made quite a thing of a week-old Lib Dem petition signed by losing candidates, that is rambling, contains no credible proposal to finance scrapping tuition fees, contains a typo in the title…

 ”No to tuition higher tuition fees, yes to Liberal Democrat integrity

…happily the first draft of the petition is much more clear has fallen in the hands of Liberal Vision.

We reprint it in full

No to being in power and taking tough decisions

Dear Nick,

We the undersigned would like you to remain true to a policy pledge that did not help us win our seats.

We did not become Liberal Democrats candidates with any expectation of ever being elected, let alone in government, and find the current situation of power-sharing, as the minority partner with the Conservatives, entirely surprising and objectionable.

We admit most of us did not vote against the Coalition at a special conference called in order to test that issue. However that was before we realised the mainly Conservative Government would not be implementing the Liberal Democrat manifesto in full, or every daft promise we have ever made on a local Focus leaflet.

We also feel the financial crisis is overblown. Sure by 2015 interest on government debt will be £66bn and the second largest item of public spending. Sure total debt will sale past £1 trillion in the next couple of years, and there are large unfunded PFI, public and state pension liabilities bringing the total to over £4 trillion. Sure other public services, welfare, and infrastructure are being cut back to cope, whilst tax rises risk undermining growth.

However this is no reason to reconsider a commitment to fully subsidise the costs of educating the children of the better off and future high income earners so they might get on the mortgage ladder sooner.

And o.k. it’s regressive, and o.k. your alternative proposal isn’t and much like a workable version of the NUS’s proposed graduate tax.

However we made a promise.

That promise may have been largely a matter of electoral opportunism. We might mainly have been thinking about filling  Ds and Ps on canvass cards, young volunteer shoe leather, and beating Labour in a small number of university towns, rather than the consequences. But we didn’t think we were going to win!

And in our seats we didn’t.

We very much hope then you will consider the views of the losing majority of candidates and govern in the interests of losing with integrity next time.

Yours, the undersigned… etc.

Nolan Chart for the GLA candidates

By Ed Joyce
November 29th, 2010 at 9:57 am | 7 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Many people have been introduced to libertarianism through the Nolan Chart
( What few may be aware of is that David Nolan died on 20th November 2010. David Nolan was a founder of the US libertarian party and a noted geolibertarian, ie one of the types of libertarian found in the Liberal Democrat Party. In honour of David Nolan I have produced a Nolan chart based on my interpretation of the views of candidates. This gives a timely reminder of how this chart can be used to inform discussions about libertarianism.

This matrix was created to try to interpret the political positions of the candidates for the Lib Dem GLA list. I believe that this is important because it allows us to determine the type of Lib Dems being elected. We need to bear in mind that the GLA is a scrutiny committee and that the party has determined policy. None the less the political positions of the candidates are, in my experience, of interest to voters and are not necessarily made obvious by candidates. This is the first time that this exercise has been attempted to my knowledge. There are bound to be discrepancies so voters should not use this to cast their vote. It is intended to inform communications between voters and candidates who can state their own positions.

The information used to create this matrix comes from the candidates directly, the internet, the Manifesto Booklet and from general knowledge of the candidates. Some candidates seem to have a long term history of not being involved in campaigns that reveal their political ideology or have chosen not to in this campaign. I am also less sure of the political positions of Russell and Pidgeon than the rest.

This election is marked by a low number of candidates from the right wing of the party.The Orange Book concept of a right wing leaning libertarian view does not seem particularly evident. All candidates have avoided taking left/right labels in this election, and none have explicitly defined themselves as libertarians. Masroor is an imam (1) but it is not clear how that influences his political positions. Emerson has commented that she seeks to “increase foreign direct investment” (2), and appears to be the most right leaning of the candidates. In general the candidates appear to take more left leaning positions with there being an emphasis on government intervention in the housing sector. The candidates therefore seem to be representative of our councillor base rather than the parliamentary party.

Comments should be sent to edwardtjoyce@gmail .com

(2) Manifesto Booklet

Nolan Chart GLA

Nolan Chart GLA

“Chocolate Orange Dave” strikes again…

By Angela Harbutt
November 28th, 2010 at 3:17 am | 4 Comments | Posted in freedom

 You will recall that Chocolate Orange Dave has oft grumbled about supermarkets alcohol pricing policies . You remember his  ”20 tins of Stella for a fiver” line surely. Now it looks like he is going to do something about it  – planning to introduce a ban on supermarkets  selling wine, beer and spirits below a national “minimum price“.

If true , one has to start to question seriously the philosophy – or lack of it – of this man and his government. Far from rectifying the mistakes of the previous regime. They seem intent on a repeating them. We are already being told that government is actively considering banning branding on cigarette packs - providing an open door to counterfeiters to increase their market share of sales, damaging the activities of legitimate business and doubtless losing tax revenue into the bargain.

Now we are told that they wish to further “fiddle” with business by telling those most able to sell a product at the lowest price – that they can’t. So much for stripping away legislation that hinders growth. Government policy seems to be all about the new controls it wishes to impose. In case Dave hasn’t realised it yet, its not the supermarkets or the alcohol producers that are responsible for so-called binge-drinking - that’s the responsibility of those individuals who choose to drink to excess. No-one elses. 

What is especially concerning is that a government appears to be emerging that is happy – nay determined  – to interfere in areas of life where it has no right to be..whether that’s poking and prying into our “levels of happiness” or determining how we should spend our hard earned cash. 

This all smacks of a government running around trying to put out small individual fires and “be seen to be tackling” social problems without any underlying principles to guide them.

You can’t bang on about social responsibility and individual responsibility and the big society and localism and goodness knows what – and in the same breath seek to impose national rules that will penalise the responsible and the poor because of the actions of the irresponsible few

In case you care: Happiness Index DOWN

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The bottom line on the Welfare State

By Leslie Clark
November 27th, 2010 at 2:21 pm | 7 Comments | Posted in Welfare State

I’m pleased that aging night club owner Peter Stringfellow, 70, has attempted to hand back his “totally unnecessary” winter fuel payment. Mr Stringfellow, famous for his sartorial elegance (see here if you dare), has penned a letter to Iain Duncan Smith requesting whether he can return the last ten years of the allowance.

What this example shows is how absurd the British welfare system has become that it has enveloped so many individuals, including millionaire pensioners like Peter Stringfellow. Whilst he has quite sensibly proposed an opt-out to the system, anyone can return their unwanted allowance to the Department of Work and Pensions. Wealthy pensioners of Britain should unite and follow Stringfellow’s lead!

Similarly, if any there are any wealthy lefties out there agonising that they are not paying enough tax to the State, they can easily write a cheque to the Inland Revenue for an amount they deem appropriate. In the age of austerity, Chancellor Osborne would be extremely grateful.

Liberals were responsible for creating many welfare services with old age pensions and National Insurance schemes under the Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith administrations. But the welfare state has gone far beyond what many of the great liberals of the past envisaged. Today, Liberal Democrats should bear in mind what liberal economist Professor Alan Peacock once wrote,

The true object of the welfare state, for a Liberal, is to teach people how to do without it.”

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